The New Negro Movement

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Shortly after Rachel was written in 1916, the New Negro Movement began to gain traction in the African American community. This broad cultural movement focused on promoting a public image of African Americans as industrious, urban, independent, and distinct from the subservient and illiterate “Old Negro” of the rural South. Unlike his predecessor, the New Negro was self-sufficient, intellectually sophisticated, creative, knowledgeable and proud of his racial heritage (Krasner, Beautiful Pageant 140). While these concepts had been promoted since the turn of the century, it was not until 1917-1918 that they began to crystalize as a concerted effort among African American intellectuals. These men actively supported the creation of black drama because they recognized that “At a time when African Americans had virtually no political recourse, their voice could best be heard through…a creative and humanistic effort to achieve the goal of civil rights by producing positive images of African Americans and promoting activism through art” (“New Negro Movement” 926). The New Negros therefore shared the same overall goal as black intellectuals such as DuBois, but believed that black artists should focus on presenting the reality and beauty of the “black human experience” instead of an idealized vision of what life should be. Ultimately, the transition from “political” art to that which held creativity in high esteem was complex and divisive. Fortunately, just as Dubois emerged as the primary advocate of the former Political Theatre, so too would Alain Locke help guide the New Negros to support the idea of Art Theatre. Alain Locke’s support of the New Negro Movement helped convince African Americans to move away from the propagandistic ph... ... middle of paper ... ...vid. A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1927. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Print. Krasner, David. Resistance, Parody, and Double Consciousness in African American Theatre: 1895-1910. Basingstoke: MacMillan, 1997. Print. Mackay, Constance D'Arcy. The Little Theatre in the United States. New York: H. Holt, 1917. Print. McKay, Nellie. "Black Theater and Drama in the 1920s: Years of Growing Pains." The Massachusetts Review 28.4 (1987): 615-626. JSTOR. Web. 31 Mar. 2014 Saxon, Theresa. American Theatre: History, Context, Form. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ, 2011. Print. Scott, Freda L. "Black Drama and the Harlem Renaissance." Theatre Journal 37.4 (1985): 426-439. Print. Wheeler, Kip. "Literary Terms and Definitions M." Literary Terms and Definitions "M" Carson-Newman University, n.d. Web. 12 May 2014.
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