WEEK 4 DISCUSSION
The Harlem Renaissance got its start in the 1920s in New York. Harlem became one of the largest black communities that many went to after emancipation. It was where black women and men of all ages went to pursue their dreams and get something more out of life. It was the start of an era called The New Negro. I was described as giving black Americans a voice and identity. A cultural embrace of what it was to be African American in America. It was a blend of political, spiritual, and cultural art. It gave so some of the most famous artists of African American history a platform to impact individuals on a different level. It never just stayed in Harlem though. It moved to different cities like New Orleans, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Some familiar artists who emerged from the Harlem Renaissance were singers like Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong.
Josephine Baker (1906-1975) was a singer, dancer, and entertainer who got her start and popularity in France. At the age of 12, she quit school, ran away from home, and learned how to support herself by working in restaurants and performing. At 16 years old, she began working in the theatre department in New York. While being a quick study, she began auditioning and performing. Being that she was still very young, she began performing and dancing in bars. Eventually, she started going on tours and perfecting her talent, earning her famous status. At the start of WWII, she gave her support to France and was eventually recruited as a spy by the French Renaissance. She performed back and forth between the US and Paris for nearly 50 years until her death in 1975. Louis Armstrong (1901-1970) was another talented individual that came at the time of the Harlem Renaissance when jazz and the blues spoke spiritually to black men and women. He was a musician and jazz singer based out of New Orleans. He is probably one of the most recognizable names and smiles whenever researching this time in black history. As a young boy, he was arrested and sent away to a juvenile facility where he learned several skills. One he is most famous for is playing the bugle. Once he was older, he moved to Chicago and started his band. He eventually toured around the world with some recognizable names like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. He earned himself the name being the godfather of jazz and was respected for his talent and colorful lyrics. He died in his sleep in New York City where his home is considered a national landmark.
The Harlem Renaissance gave birth to not only singers and songwriters, but to poetry writers and literature writers. They were also contributing to the voice that injustice was still happening and more changes still needed to be made. The Renaissance wasnt just in one place though and reached every black community that gave birth to one of the most spiritually and remarkable events in African American History.
WEEK 4 DISCUSSION
The case of the Scottsboro Boys was one that lasted over 80 years. In March of 1931, nine African American boys searching for work were accused of raping two white women aboard a freight train in Alabama. Their names were Haywood Patterson, Olen Montgomery, Clarence Norris, Willie Roberson, Andy Wright, Ozzie Powell, Eugene Williams, Charley Weems and Roy Wright. While on the train, a fight broke out between the Scottsboro boys and young white men. The white men report the fight as an assault to the officials and when the boys reached Scottsboro, they were arrested. As a result, two white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, involved in illegal sexual activity had the perfect escape; the nine African American boys.
On April 6, 1931, a week after being arrested the boys were charged with rape and sentenced to death by electric chair. At the time, one of the boys was a minor so he was sentenced to life in prison. After the trials, George Mauer of the International Labor Defense sent a letter to the Governor of Alabama stating that the boys had been framed and were victims of a legal lynching. He asked for a stay of execution and filed for a retrial.
There were protests in support of the Scottsboro boys leading to The Supreme Court demanding a retrial. They stated that the boys didn’t have adequate representation at the time of conviction. Over several years, there were many retrials and reconvictions. Consequently, the boys served over 100 years in prison collectively due to the unfair court proceedings. Their case led to The Supreme Court ruling in favor of jury diversification, allowing African Americans to serve on the jury as well.
WEEK 4 ESSAY
Dear Mrs. Roosevelt,
I am writing to you to ask for the Presidents help. I used to work at a cannery but was fired because my employer could not pay his workers’ wages. I have worked at the cannery for seven years, and a white women kept her job who was hired a few months ago. We are the last hired and the first fired (Kelley & Lewis, 2005). My husband has tried to find jobs as a trash collector or elevator operator and only whites are hired. My husbands employer told him that there will be no jobs for African Americans until every white man has a job. In order to make any kind of money, I will stand on the side of the street and offer household services to any white woman who will hire me. I have done the hardest household labor you can imagine, and I am paid no more than five dollars a week. How do you take care of a family with only 5 dollars? My family and I have lost our homes because we cannot afford to live there anymore. I can hardly afford to feed my children, let alone clothe them. There have been many nights that I have put my children to sleep without any food in their bellies. We have tried to go to the local charities, but African Americans are put at the end of the line and never see any form of relief. We have asked the welfare people for help too and our requests have been denied. My family is one of many that is suffering in this way. Please Mrs. Roosevelt, there must be something that you and the President can do to help. My family, and many other families, cannot continue to live this way for much longer.
WEEK 4 ESSAY
Dear Mister Precedent and Miss Eleanor Roosevelt,
My family and I are afraid that they will find out who wrote this letter and harm or kill us. I am too ill and worn out to take any more. My husband doesn’t want me to write you this letter sir, but I know that in order to see change I have to be strong for my family. My husband has no idea that I am writing this letter. We are starving, sir, and my husband is unable to work because he is a black man, and I am unable to do so because I must take care of our children. White people aren’t helping us since they won’t provide us with anything, including food, clothing, education, or employment. They always tell my husband there are no jobs available whenever he goes looking for one although we know there are jobs available. They just assist white people, sir, and they don’t need any assistance themself. Sir, we need your help to stop all of this. Hold these white people accountable for these terrible things they do to us black people because we dont deserve it, sir. All that me and the other black people desire is a happy life for our families. My children are pleading with me to let them go to school even though they know we have no food or clothing, and I am afraid for their safety due to the color of their skin. We only want to be treated equally with white people, so I humbly ask for your help. We need your assistance, Mr. Precedent; we can’t accomplish it without you. I sincerely hope you read my letter, Sir and I appreciate your time. I know you and your wife are good people and will work to assist us black people, so may GOD bless you both, sir.
A tired black woman
We still deal with some of the same issues from 1932 to 1944, which is why I decided to write about them specifically. It also made me think about the pandemic. Many families with kids were having a hard time making ends meet during this time, and many still do now that the child relief payments have ended. I had the choice of leaving my job or taking voluntary leave, which is what I chose. This decision came with a significant pay decrease and some challenges along the way. African Americans specifically suffered more from the Great Depression compared to any other group in America because they faced more racism, poverty, and discrimination, which, sadly, persists even today.