Being an African American in the times of prejudice was anything but easy. Although slavery was outlawed, Jim Crow laws were utilized to keep African Americans “second class” and well below an equality of life that included housing, jobs, public facilities, as well as restaurants and many other liberties that were protected under a United States constitution. Many people such as W.E.B. Dubois and Marcus Garvey, although their ideas clashed between integration vs. separatism, they both supported the fact that African Americans needed to uplift one another and unify the black community, a term coined the Pan-Africanism movement, while also supporting the preservation of black culture’s heritage. Blacks who could gather enough money financially were moving out of the South in what was known as the Great Migration, and began filling Northern states in order to get away from the hate groups and constant violence that was occurring in the South. Even though the laws of the North were not as harsh as the Southern States the prejudice was still just as spiteful. Although dealing with prejudice, African Americans who migrated to Northern cities came across an abundance of jobs that didn’t leave them in perpetual debt and allowed them to set their own priorities when it came to spending money. Northern industry jobs such as oil refining and auto manufacturing
sought out their labor while in other Western cities mining and livestock-handling were calling African Americans for their efforts in the fields. Harlem became an important entity in this Great Migration. “It took the environment of the new American city to bring in close proximity some of the greatest minds of the day.”
“The New Negro” movement was in full affect after it had been coined in 1917 by Alan Leroy Locke which upheld the ideals of being a proud and assertive African American and refusing to submit to the Jim Crow laws. He spoke of the “New Negro” These ideals pushed writers, artists, and musicians to come up with strong and controversial literature, paintings, and compositions that would begin to put a true face on what the African American represented. Locke described the movement as having its roots in Harlem in his book by saying that “…The pulse of the Negro world has begun to beat in Harlem” (Carson, Lapensky-Werner & Nash, 2011, p. 368) .People such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington worked hard to inspire Blacks and were definitely a few of the many “New Negros” that were idolized for their success throughout their lives and especially in the Harlem Renaissance. The Renaissance provided these musicians the gateway into the minds and hearts of whites and allowed Blacks to express all their struggles to their oppressor’s seated in the audience while at the same time proving that they were more then what was thought of them.
The Cotton Club was first purchased by heavyweight champion boxer Jack Johnson at the time being called “Club Deluxe” on the corner...