Creative Movement, Harlem Renaissance, Helped Black People Express Themselves

1327 words - 5 pages

Cate Schick Research Paper

During the early 1900s, African Americans in the South faced several difficult struggles. To escape these hardships, many decided to travel to the North in search of a better life. The time period when millions of black Americans abandoned their old southern lives and migrated to cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and West is known as the Great Migration. (Wilkerson). Once settled in these cities, African Americans were pleased find that they were able to express themselves through art, literature, and music. This creative movement was known as the Harlem Renaissance. The Great Migration influenced the Harlem Renaissance because it led African Americans to northern cities where they gathered together and made amazing creative achievements. Writers like Claude McKay expressed the feelings that all African Americans felt about discrimination in America while encouraging them to stay strong and proud. The literary voice in the poetry created during the Harlem Renaissance was greatly influenced by the Great Migration.
The Great Migration was the movement of more than 6 million African Americans from the South to Northeastern, Midwestern, and Western cities. Before it began, 90 percent of all African Americans were living in the South. By the end, nearly half of them were living in cities of the North and West. (Wilkerson). During this time, the Southern economy was suffering greatly. Wages were low, jobs were few and pests called bull weevils could destroy entire cotton crops. (Liccone 3). After the passing of the 13th Amendment, freed slaves were allowed to leave their plantations and start a new life. However, leaving their plantation could result in angry whites hurting or killing them, so most were convinced to stay with their former masters and work as sharecroppers. (Sterling). A sharecropper is a tenant farmer who tends to crops and receives a small portion of it once it is harvested. This kept African Americans in a cycle of poverty because they were not payed enough money to sustain themselves and their families, which forced them into debt. (Sterling). White plantation owners did this so black citizens would not become powerful. The struggling economy led to the Great Migration because it gave many African Americans another reason to travel to the North.
Not only did the South have economic problems, but there was also discrimination towards their black citizens. They put voting restrictions into place to keep African Americans away from the polls. Some of these restrictions include literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses. Many blacks could not afford to pay the poll taxes, which kept them from casting their vote. Others were uneducated and illiterate, so they would not be able to pass to literacy tests. On the rare occasion that an African American was able to overcome these restrictions and actually cast their vote, they were exposed to a whole new threat known as the KKK. The KKK (Klu Klux...

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