CHAPTER 17 AFRICAN AMERICANS AND THE 1920s, 1915-1928 CHAPTER SUMMARY The 1920s saw a resurgence and increase in white racism. Intellectuals supported theories describing blacks as inferior, and the general white public flocked to see the film The Birth of a Nation. The film, depicting blacks as either stupid or criminal in Reconstruction South Carolina, grew alongside the growth of the Ku Klux Klan. The 1920s KKK expanded its lists of hatreds to include immigrants, Jews, and Catholics, along with blacks, but stepped into mainstream politics with a huge membership and following. As before, blacks had many different responses. The NAACP expanded and continued its attempts to chip away at racism through the legal and political system. New leaders also emerged. Marcus Garvey attracted large numbers of loyal followers by preaching black pride and self-sufficiency. He also supported a movement back to Africa, although it never really materialized. Garvey was castigated by both other prominent black leaders as well as the government, who eventually had him deported. Blacks in industrial occupations responded to discrimination and poor working conditions by attempting to form labor unions, like the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, to improve their working lives. In addition to efforts in civil rights and labor issues, the twenties saw an explosion of literature and art among blacks, centered in Harlem. The Harlem Renaissance, however, failed to unite blacks. Some thought the purpose of literature should be to present a positive view of blacks to improve race relations while others focused on a more accurate, realistic portrayal of black life. Black music, namely jazz, became immensely popular, as whites flocked to the Cotton Club for lavish productions and famous names. Black sports figures were not as fortunate as their artistic counterparts in recognition, as they continued to experience exclusion for the most part from professional sports and discrimination at the amateur level. LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Understand the atmosphere of increased racism during the 1920s affecting black Americans. 2. Understand the varieties of tactics employed by blacks to improve their situation in the 1920s, including the actions of the NAACP, Marcus Garvey, and Pan-Africanism. 3. Understand the difficulties and the organizing of working-class blacks. 4. Understand the characteristics and the important works, authors, and artists, of the Harlem Renaissance. 5. Understand the role of blacks in sports during the 1920s, as well as the difficulties they faced. TOPICS FOR LECTURES/LONG ESSAYS OR PAPERS/DISCUSSION 1. Watch the film, The Birth of a Nation. Discuss the elements of the film and how it portrays blacks as well as the process of reconstruction. How does it fit into the spirit of the 1920s? 2. Discuss the activities of the NAACP and A. Philip Randolph at this time. How do the actions of the two groups fit together? How do they reflect differing ideas? Who do you think was more influential? 3. Pick several of the works produced during the Harlem Renaissance, including literature, art, and music. Discuss how they fit into the period, the views they demonstrate, and how they would be received today. 4. Discuss the issue of race among blacks, as illustrated by works like Color Struck and The Blacker the Berry. . . What do they reflect about blacks in America? 5. Discuss the views of Marcus Garvey. Why was he so popular among working-class people? Why was he criticized by many other blacks? What does his controversy tell you about the nature of black leadership during the 1920s? 6. Why did whites try to keep blacks out of sports? How might sports have been different if they had not been segregated? Do you think this would have affected attitudes of racist whites? LECTURE OUTLINE I. Introduction II. Strikes and the Red Scare A. Labor Activity B. Actions of Political Leaders C. Xenophobia III. Varieties of Racism A. Scientific Racism 1. “Academic” studies 2. Immigration restriction B. The Birth of a Nation 1. Content/Popularity 2. NAACP Reaction 3. White reaction 4. Results of protest C. Ku Klux Klan 1. Reemergence 2. Views/Support 3. Decline IV. Protest, Pride, and Pan Africanism: Black Organizations in the Twenties A. The NAACP 1. Expansion of membership 2. Crusade against lynching 3. Walter White 4. Campaign for the Dyer Bill 5. Campaign against “white primaries” 6. Sweet Trial B. “Up You Mighty Race”: Marcus Garvey and the UNIA 1. Benefits 2. Background 3. Views 4. Pageantry and Ceremonies 5. Establishment of Businesses 6. Plans for Africa 7. Opposition to Garvey a. Government b. Other black leaders 8. Attitude toward the KKK 9. Legal Problems/Downfall 10. Legacy C. Pan-Africanism 1. European Colonialism 2. Pan-African Congress, 1900 3. Pan-African Congress, 1919 V. Labor A. General 1. Job Statistics 2. Union Status 3. Efforts of NAACP/Urban League B. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters 1. Black Employees of Pullman Company 2. Duties/Difficulties 3. Organization C. A. Philip Randolph 1. Background 2. Leadership of BSCP 3. Opposition/Support 4. Difficulties VI. The Harlem Renaissance A. American Trend in Literature B. Before Harlem 1. Literature/Fine Arts 2. Academics 3. Poetry C. Writers and Artists 1. Educational Background 2. Emergence/Early Works 3. Publishers 4. Disagreements Over Purpose of Literature D. White People and the Harlem Renaissance 1. Carl Van Vechten 2. Support of black literature 3. Continued elements of racism 4. White patronage 5. Social gatherings VII. Harlem and the Jazz Age A. Greater Popularity of Musicians/Singers B. Centrality of Harlem C. The Cotton Club D. Connie’s Inn E. Black Establishments F. Song, Dance, and Stage 1. Female singers 2. Black playwrights 3. Paul Robeson VIII. Sports A. Expansion of Black Athletics B. Black Baseball C. Rube Foster 1. Baseball career 2. Negro National League D. College Sports 1. Segregation 2. Discrimination against blacks