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The Harlem Renaissance: The History and Legacy of Early 20th Century America’s Most Influential Cultural Movement

Sprecher: Dan Gallagher
Spieldauer: 1 Std. und 30 Min.

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The Great Migration was the name coined for the mass movement of African-Americans north of the Mason-Dixon line in the years following the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. The enormous promise of emancipation proved to be illusory for the majority of Southern blacks, whether free or formerly enslaved, and as a result, hundreds of thousands made use of their fundamental freedom to leave.  

This resulted in a “push” away from the South, caused by ongoing discrimination, punishing Jim Crow laws, and increasing violence directed at blacks by whites. This was largely a movement driven by unreconciled whites who were apt to remind blacks that while slavery might have ended, equality should not be expected in its place. At the same time, another aspect was the “pull” towards seemingly greater opportunities available in the North. There were many reasons for this, but mainly it had to do with the massive industrial stimulus brought about by World War I. While the United States may not have been directly engaged in the war, the nation’s industrial resources certainly were. 

Initially, the jobs created by this surge in industrialization were not available to blacks because of union restrictions intended to protect white labor, but when the war broke out in Europe in 1914, this changed dramatically. European immigration to the United States evaporated almost overnight, creating an immediate labor vacuum in the United States, and although this did not mollify restive white labor unions, it nonetheless created a surge in opportunities for blacks.

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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