During this time in a movement known as the Great Migration, thousands of African-Americans also known as Negros left their homes in the South and moved North toward the beach line of big cities in search of employment and a new beginning. As Locke stated, “the wash and rush of this human tide on the beach line of Northern city centers is to be explained primarily in terms of a new vision of opportunity, of social and economic freedom, of a spirit to seize, even in the face of an extortionate and heavy toll, a chance for the improvement of conditions. With each successive wave of it, the movement of the Negro becomes more and more a mass movement toward the larger and the more democratic chance-in the Negro’s case a deliberate flight not only from countryside to city, but from medieval America to modern.”
African-American men were granted the right to vote through the fifteenth amendment. However, white Southerners passed legislation that prevented African-American men from exercising this right. By 1908, ten southern states had rewritten their constitutions to restrict voting rights through literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses. In addition to not having the right to vote, African-Americans were relegated to segregation as well. The 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case made it legal to enforce “separate but equal” public facilities including public transportation, public schools, restroom facilities and water fountains.
In addition to African-American men losing the right to vote and separate but equal laws, African-Americans were subjected to various acts of terror by white southerners. Many white Americans of the early twentieth century thought o...
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...lthough faced by white supremacist groups, government opposing their basic rights as U.S. citizens and being racially discriminated everywhere they went managed to demonstrate through pure skill and talent that they were as much intelligent and as much needed as any other white American citizen. They managed to break down the barriers that were holding them down, overcame segregation and escaped the reigns of the old Victorian morals that was keeping the United States of American from flourishing into what it could truly become, a free nation.
Locke, Alain. The New Negro: Voices of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1925
Bloom, Harold. Black American Prose Writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Pub, 1994
Wallace, Maurice. Langston Hughes: The Harlem Renaissance. New York: Cavendish Square Publishing, 2007
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