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African Americans

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The abolition of slavery in the United States presented southern African Americans with many new opportunities, including the option of relocation in search of better living conditions. The mass movement of black people from the rural areas of the South to the cities of the North, known as the Black Migration, came in the 1890s when black men and women left the south to settle in cities such as Philadelphia and New York, fleeing from the rise of Jim Crowe Laws and searching for work. This migration of blacks from the South has been an important factor in the formation of the Harlem Renaissance. The period referred to as the Harlem Renaissance, was a flourishing period of artistic and literary creation in African-American culture and helped birth the school of thought characterized by the "New Negroes" of the North.

The term "New Negro" transformed the stereotypical image of African Americans as ex-slaves that were ignorant and inferior, to a race of intellectuals who articulated their culture in writing, art, and music. The phrase "New Negro" was in use long before the Harlem Renaissance, but this school of thought was truly emphasized by Alain Locke in his book The New Negro: An Interpretation. The New Negro was put together for the purpose as described by Lock: "to document the New Negro culturally and socially, - to register the transformations of the inner and outer life of the Negro in America that have so significantly taken place in the last few years." It was felt that African Americans were eager to claim their own agency in culture and politics instead of just remaining a problem for the whites. The "New Negroes" included poets, novelists, and blues musicians creating their art out of their own African folk, heritage and history. There were also Black political leaders fighting the ongoing struggle of presenting opportunities for African Americans; along with businessmen working toward the possibilities of a "black metropolis"; and Garveyites...



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