The African American History Essay

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The `New Negro` movement, Marcus Garvey and the UNIA, and the Harlem Renaissance

The New Negro movement which later came to be known as the Harlem Renaissance was the cultural and social movement for the African Americans that took place between the late nineteen twenties and the early nineteen thirties (ExampleEssays, 2009). The center of the movement was in the New York City specifically, Harlem Neighborhood. During the New Negro movement, the African American theater, music such as blues, jazz and swing, politics and art blossomed making them to be recognized by the American white population (ExampleEssays 2009). The artists and the musicians of the renaissance were very famous during the twentieth century. Writers such as Claude McKay, Chalse Chesnutt and James Johnson wrote books on racial identity and general life for blacks. The leaders of the African Americans encouraged their people to celebrate and appreciate their culture. This renaissance developed as a result of the migration of the African Americans to the urban areas, the emergence of the intellectuals who were very radical from the black population such as W.E.B Du Bois and due to the experimentation that was going on in the entire nation (ExampleEssays, 2009). The renaissance came to an end in the 1930s due to the effects of the great depressions (McElrath, 2009).

The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNLA) was formed in the year 1917 by Marcus Garvey which was aimed at stirring the African Americans pride and to encourage them to be self reliant, to preach the news of interest to the blacks and finally to establish nationhood in Africa (UNLA-ACL, 2008). UNLA was basically formed to uplift the livelihood of the black people in the world with the members of the association pledging to observe the rights of all people who have African ancestry. Garvey, its leader was born in Jamaica in 1887 and came to America in 1917 when the New Negro movement was beginning. The blacks were disillusioned after the war and their discontentment prompted him to form the UNLA in 1919. His aim was to inspire the African Americans for success in their cultural and economic areas. This caused many black people in the world to long for freedom from colonialism and racism. The association came up with a shipping line, Publications in the black world and formed many chapters in the world (UNLA-ACL, 2008).

In conclusion it is clear that the reasons why the New Negro movement emerged was the feeling that the African Americans were still being regarded as ‘former slaves’ and thus needed to clear themselves from such notions by appreciating their own heritage. The UNLA was formed in the environment of the Harlem Renaissance since Garvey felt that black world needed to be free from colonialism and racism as this was the time when most of the African countries were under colonialism. The reason why all this was being centered in New York is because the city had a very large black population that had migrated from the rural areas to look for employment (Gates, 1997).

 How did the Great Depression affect African Americans in the South, North, and West, in the countryside and in the city, and how did they respond?

            Problems associated with the great depression, though affected all the people; the group that was hardest hit was the African Americans. In the year 1932, the number of black Americans who had been sacked from their job places was nearly half of all those who had jobs before the depression (Library of the Congress, 2002). This was especially in the Southern states where racial discrimination was very high. This explains why there was a massive migration of the blacks to the North and especially New York. This only created more problems for the blacks as the whites in the north felt that the African Americans were ‘stealing’ jobs from them. The reason was that so many blacks were being lynched by the whites especially in the South until the bill had to be passed making this illegal. The outcry of the Whites also led to the large growth of the Ku Klux Klan, an anti blacks underground movement (Library of the Congress, 2002). The African Americans were being segregated in their work places because of this depression; by being excluded from the unions and also by being paid lower wages than their white counterparts though doing similar jobs. However, because the white workers went on strike, the African Americans could be employed to fill their positions. Moreover, the blacks were fired first if need be and also hired last if a white was willing to perform the job (Library of the Congress, 2002). This meant that about 34% of the African American people could not support themselves economically with some of them depending on food and clothes aid from the government (Horton, 2008). The whites who were relocating from the high-rent houses to cheaper ones evicted the blacks from their houses since the latter did not possess bargaining power with landlords and this sometimes caused great uprising among the black (Hoyle, 1984). The rents were being increased regularly without prior consultations with the black tenants. In comparison with other areas of the cities, rents in the black ghettos were double or triple. However, the depression was a blessing in disguise in a way because the whites and the blacks could easily engage in reforms and actions to protest their economic conditions. For example over twenty thousand war veterans organized the Bonus March in Washington to demand for their benefits (Horton, 2008).  President Franklin D. Roosevelt came up with New Deal program aimed at restructuring the economy to reduce unemployment.

The desperate African Americans were provided with financial aid, jobs and housing. Workers were also now more protected under the programs as they could now join the workers’ unions and even participate in protests (Horton, 2008).

What was black power, why did it emerge in the freedom movement after 1965, and in what ways did it impact African American history?

Black power is a term that is associated with a civil rights activist in the 1960s named Stokeley Carmichael, which he used during the “Match against Fear.” At the match, Carmichael would ask the crowd what they wanted and they would respond that they wanted black power (History Learning, 2008). However the term can be viewed as philosophical with the goal of empowering and creating an identity for the discriminated African Americans (SNCC, 1966). This promoted what they commonly shared, for example, physical attributes, dialect and history. They also insisted that the African Americans should separate from the society of the white and create their institutions, such as political parties and credit unions and also have their histories in writing (SNCC, 1966). This made them feel that they were not inferior with the feelings of self worth and beauty amongst them being promoted and encouraged that they could prosper without the need of relying on the white people’s support. The opponents stated that the movement was anti white though the movement acknowledged the help they had received from some whites for example to organize protests as well as getting the voting rights. At this time however, they felt that they could fight for justice and freedom without necessarily getting assistance from the whites. The proponents of the Black Power movement were also concerned about the lack of an environment where they could show their frustrations (SNCC, 1966). Black Power movement was formed to enhance equality between the blacks and the whites in all areas, for example, in jobs where they were getting lower wages and facing insecurity especially in their neighborhood (Net Industries, 2009). Though the civil rights act was signed by then President Johnson, the African American wanted what could push them to have the equal opportunities with the whites; economically, socially and also politically. The reason why it emerged after the freedom movement of 1965 is because there are those who felt that the civil rights these movements had not done enough to address the self determination in the black race. African American leaders such as Malcolm X who wrote Nation of Islam felt that the change was being achieved at a very slow pace and thus they needed to be more radical. In process, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed with its work being tracking acts of violence by the police (Net Industries, 2009).

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