Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Summer of 2017 Part 3

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African American History Part 4

During the midst of the 19th and 20th centuries, African Americans organized movements, fought tyranny, and survived huge obstacles. The Great Migration was one of the most important parts of American history. It involved millions of African Americans from the early 20th century who wanted to escape heinous racial oppression in order for them to live in better lives. Brothers and Sisters back then wanted to care for their families and have justice. Yet, even in the North, the Midwest, and the West (during the early 20th century) black people still faced discrimination, economic exploitation, and anti-black pogroms. Also, the Harlem Renaissance grew during this time. The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion of black culture involving art, music, theater, dance, and other aspects of black culture. It was loved by many. It was widespread and it was based in Harlem (and such black creativity existed in other cities like in Chicago too. The Chicago Renaissance existed in the world as well). Movements for social and economic change existed like Garvey's UNIA to Madame C. J. Walker's entrepreneur excellence. Black businesses, during this time, expanded exponentially. World War I came about and black people bravely served in the midst of a society that massively discriminated against them. The Great Depression and the New Deal outline eras of continued struggle. Still, our ancestors rose and fought for freedom and justice. Now, it is time to learn and to further discover the strength, the beauty, and the resiliency of the black American experience.

After the Great Migration of 1910, more black people lived in Northern cities. The religious landscape of the black American community evolved. Most black Americans back then and today are Christians, but alternative religious movements existed too. Black Hebrew Israelites grew from the late 19th century. Many of them follow Judaism and others follow a Messianic Judaism (in viewing Jesus Christ as the Messiah). One of the first groups of Black Hebrews, the Church of God and Saints of Christ, was founded in 1896 in Kansas, but it retained elements of a messianic connection to Jesus. They believe that black people are descendants from the ancient Israelites and that we must follow the commandments of Moses. After World War I, for example, Wentworth Arthur Matthew, an immigrant from Saint Kitts, founded a Black Hebrew congregation in Harlem, claiming descent from the ancient Israelites. He called it the Commandment Keepers of the Living God. He followed a form of Judaism. Black Israelites are diverse. Some are more tolerable and others are outrageous, misogynistic, and xenophobic. The Moorish Science Temple existed from Noble Drew Ali. This group believed that African Americans are descendants of the Moors of Northwest Africa and Islamic by faith. The Moors teach about racial pride, historical education, and spirituality. They have grown since the 1920’s.  In religious texts, adherents refer to themselves racially as "Asiatics," as the Middle East is also western Asia. Adherents of this movement are known as Moorish-American Moslems and are called "Moorish Scientists" in some circles. One cousin of the Moorish Science Temple is the Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam was created by Wallace Fard Muhammad in the 1930’s. It was based originally in Detroit by July 4, 1930. The Nation of Islam believes in using action to build the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans and black people in general. The Nation of Islam is globally and it has been controversial since its inception. Elijah Muhammad is its famous leader. Malcolm X was once part of the NOI until he left it in 1964 to form the MMI & OAAU. Its membership (of the NOI) is estimated to be between 20,000 and 50,000 people today.

We still rise.

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The Great Migration and The Harlem Renaissance

The Great Migration was one of the most important events in black American history. It involved millions of our Black Brothers and our Black Sisters, who lived in the South, and they migrated into the North, the Midwest, and the West Coast. The First Great Migration (which involved 1.5 million people) lasted from ca. 1916 to 1930. The Second Great Migration (which involved over 5 million people) lasted from 1940 to 1970. This caused a huge shift of culture and demographics in America. By 1900, the vast majority of black Americans lived in the South. By the end of the Great Migration, 40 percent of black people lived in the North, 7 people lived in the West, and only 53 percent of black people remained in the South. More African Americans lived in urban communities as a product of the Great Migration. By 1970, 80 percent of black Americans lived in cities. The Great Migration existed because of many reasons. One was that black people wanted to escape overt terrorism in the South. The South had lynchings, murders, rapes, discrimination, and torture against black people of every gender and of every age. Black people wanted to find economic opportunities to provide for their families, get jobs, grow businesses, and be free to live in the world. It was a new chapter in world history. The First Migration caused many black people to move from mostly rural locations to mostly northern industrial cities. Many black people traveled from Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia into the North especially. From 1920 to 1950, black populations declined in those respective states.  In the first phase, eight major cities attracted two-thirds of the migrants: New York and Chicago, followed in order by Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis (some came into Cleveland too).

The Second great Black migration increased the populations of these cities while adding others as destinations, especially on the West Coast. Cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Phoenix, Seattle, and Portland attracted African Americans in large numbers. Culture from the Deep South spread into the North and the Midwest. Many from Mississippi came into Chicago and many from Virginia came into Philadelphia and New York. That is why even to this very day, many black people in the Midwest have family ties to the South. Some black Americans traveled into Canada too. Black people traveled to get economic opportunities in steel mills, railroads, meatpacking plants, and the automobile industry. Northern businessmen recruited southern workers. Black newspapers advised new black people in the North on places to go and how to be safe. Black people gained much increase in industrial employment. Yet, racism and discrimination existed in the North, the Midwest, and the West Coast. Housing covenants and mortgage discrimination plus redlining forced many black people to suffer housing discrimination. Some black people were forced into projects or certain housing involuntarily because of discriminatory policies. This is why the housing rights movement grew in order to fight for African Americans to have fair housing for real. Many areas like Bronzeville in Chicago and Harlem had a cultural growth. White racists in the South didn’t like the Great Migration, because it caused many white employers to lose black workers due to migration.

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One fruit of the Great Migration is the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a diverse movement of black people who wanted to express themselves culturally, economically, socially, and artistically. It is one of the most studied movements of American history. Members of the movement included men and women geniuses who wanted personal freedom while showing their artistic gifts at the same time. Millions of African Americans used their pens to outline our history without apology. Massive concentration of black people in New York City in Harlem grew the Harlem Renaissance. It was influenced by those who celebrated blackness like  Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor. In other words, many francophone (or French speaking) black writers from Africa and the Caribbean colonies (and who lived in Paris) influenced the Harlem Renaissance. This was a new movement back then which showed black confidence, black love, and black artistic expression. Alain Locke (who was a great scholar) called the “New Negro Movement” as a movement of change. This movement existed nationwide beyond just Harlem. It lasted from 1918 to ca. 1940. Now, by the early 1900’s, Harlem became inhabited mostly by African Americans. As early as 1917, many African Americans actors refused to express the stereotypes of the blackface and minstrel show aesthetic to show the complex emotions of African Americans in the Three Plays for a Negro Theatre (it was written by playwright Ridgely Torrence, who was white). James Weldon Johnson in the early 20th century continued to fight for justice. In 1919, the poet Claude McKay wrote the historic sonnet “IF We must Die.” This poem was about the desperation at injustice and the desire of black people to be free, even by militant means. He wrote the poems “Invocation” and Harlem Dancer” under the pseudonym Eli Edwards from 1917. He came from Jamaica. Hubert Harrison said that the continuous stream of black cultural expressed in literature and art have always existed from the 19th to 20th centuries continuously.

Religion was greatly influential in that movement too. Many of the artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance were Christian and non-Christian. Yet, they used religious imagery in their work. One example is Langston Hughes’ “Madam and the Minister” poem. Some writers praised religion and others were skeptic about mainstream religion. Langston Hughes was one of the greatest authors of the Harlem Renaissance. Also, there was the struggle between Christian culture and African traditions in poetry. Countee Cullen's poem "Heritage" expresses the inner struggle of an African American between his past African heritage and the new Christian culture. Some overtly criticized hypocrisies that some people have involving religion. Music was a key part of the Harlem Renaissance too. Jazz, various dances grew. Fats Walker, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and Willie Smith were very talented. Music brought poor black people and middle class black people together in dancehalls across NYC. Blues, spirituals, gospel, and other forms of music would continue to impact African American culture to this day. Fashion developed too. Men and women wrote hats and diverse clothes. Women had short skirts and silk stockings too as worn by Josephine Baker.  Diverse factions were in the movement. LGBT people were definitely in the Harlem Renaissance. Back then, people were arrested for being LBGT. Many people accepted people who were gay and lesbian. In many clubs, there were cabarets and people in drag. There were people like Alice Dunabar-Nelson and Gertrude “Ma” Rainey who had husbands, but had romantic relationships with women too. Abyssinian Baptist Church minister Adam Clayton Powell denounced all things LGBT and he disapproved of homosexuality. Adam Clayton Powell Sr. would be famous in New York City history for his activism in civil rights activities  (especially in NYC in supporting boycotts of racist institutions), promoting Medicare, supporting other social programs, etc. Rainey wore suits and a top hat. Her blues lyrics were overt in desiring romance with women. Rainey’s protégé was Bessie Smith. Blues singer Gladys Bentley cross dress. Bentley was married to a woman in 1931. Then, she later married a black man later in life before she passed away in the 1960. Gladys Bentley (who was a great pianist) was preparing to be in the ministry before she unfortunately died. The Harlem Renaissance was filled with many people of diverse sexual orientations. I do believe that all human beings are born equal (regardless of someone's background) and I forever believe in human rights too.

Conservative, liberal, socialist, and moderate black people flourished with talent and insights during the Harlem Renaissance. Black business leaders, patrons, and publications owned by black people were key to develop the Harlem Renaissance. White Americans like Carl Van Vechten and Charlotte Osgood Mason funded many black artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Harlem Renaissance was a demand for equality and justice. Authors and scholars called for it overtly. Nonfiction and fictional stories flourished during this time period. Among authors who became nationally known were Jean Toomer, Jessie Fauset, Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Alain Locke, Omar Al Amiri, Eric D. Walrond and Langston Hughes. It was an era of the growth of black racial consciousness. Marcus Garvey believed in black ethnic pride. WEB DuBois wanted pan-African unity. The Harlem Renaissance was one critical movement in society that helped to develop the post-WWII Civil Rights Movement. Zora Neale Hurston was a black author who represented the freedom and independence of the Harlem Renaissance. She wrote many classics including “Their Eyes Were Watching God” from 1937. She was a folklorist and anthropologist.

Zora Neale Hurston lived from January 7, 1891 to January 28, 1960. She wrote more than 50 pieces of prose and 4 novels. Shew was born in Alabama. She studied in Howard University. She worked with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman in promoting black American literature. Her story of “Mules and Men” in 1935 described folklore in Florida as she lived in Florida heavily too. Zora Neale Hurston was a libertarian. She believed in non-interventionism of foreign policy, self-help (as embraced by Booker T. Washington), and religious skepticism (though she used spiritual imagery in her literature). She was right to criticize Truman’s usage of atomic weapons in Japan. Langston Hughes believed in the New Deal, at one time praised the Soviet Union, and he supported the civil rights movement. He, Lorraine Hansberry, and Richard Wright believed in humanist views. By the 1960’s, he wanted the young writers of the young Black Power movement to write their words, but to show a gentle side also. Alice Walker (a great writer in her own right) considers Hughes a hero. Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston were geniuses. Spirituals and folk influences definitely have an impact in the literature of that historic time. Movies and other forms of expression were abundant. Intellectuals like Walter Francis White, Hubert Harrison, and Eugene Gordon wrote their words powerfully. Entertainers like Josephine Baker, the Nicholas Brother, Billy Pierce, and others moved crowds. Authors like Nella Larsen, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Georgia Douglas Johnson, Mae V. Cowdery, and others promoted truth and wisdom. Artists like Charles Alston, Augusta Savage, Prentiss Taylor, and Jacob Lawrence described the beauty of the Universe. Therefore, the Harlem Renaissance remains a very important part of black American history and culture.

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Social movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The rise and fall of the populist movement is one of the most unknown parts of black American history. I never heard of this movement until a few years ago. This movement was unprecedented in the South. It was about black and white farmers and other workers uniting for the first time in history against the northern capitalists and the Southern capitalists. The Populists fought for land reform and a fair redistribution of wealth and land. Some farmers came to defend a young black preacher in Thomson, Georgia who was threatened with lynching for his political activities. During this time, Southern Democrats used many evil ways including terrorism to deprive black people of human rights. Many white Southern planters wanted state rule beyond federal government control. The disgraceful 1876 Compromise involved Northern capitalists uniting with the Southern ruling class (as found in the Bourbon Democrats) in order to end Reconstruction while making profits among especially poor workers (both black and white). The Paris Commune in France (where men and women took over the government to form a socialist system) scared the capitalists. By the late 19th century, farms increased in the South. Republican power decreased. Sharecroppers and other forms of economic exploitation were prevalent. Therefore, black sharecroppers, white sharecroppers, and farmers united to form the Populist movement. This movement wanted to end the oppression of the big planters and capitalists. In the late 1880's, they began to organize cooperative efforts to deal with their problems. By 1890, some 3 million white farmers belonged to the Southern Farmers' Alliance, and 1.25 million southern Black farmers belonged to the Colored Farmers' National Alliance. These groups, along with fledgling unions in urban areas, provided the basis for the Populist Party, founded in St. Louis in 1892.

Reverend J. L. Moore Florida Colored Farmers Alliance was a well-known member of the Populist movement. The Populists had a platform of a currency that would help debt stricken farmers and workers. It wanted support for organized labor, shorter workday for industrial workers, government ownership of public utilities, a graduated income tax (which means that the richer you are, the more taxes that you had to pay), and other democratic reforms (female suffrage, the right to referendums and recalls). Millions of farmers joined the movement. The Populist presidential candidate won over 1 million votes in 1892. The Southern ruling class feared this movement, so they fought back. They used terror, fraud, and divide and conquer strategies to end the Populist movement. Lynchers murdered 155 black people and 100 white people in 1892. Armed planters forced black sharecroppers to vote for the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party used co-option to manipulate the Populist Party. Also, many Populists, who were white, became overt supporters of white supremacy like Tom Watson (who was an anti-Semite and racist in 1904). Populists had internal struggle with planters and tenants. It showed how some people can unite to fight capitalist exploitation. Its defeat harmed black people and Jim Crow grew massively in America. Black people were further disenfranchised. Poor whites were exploited by white capitalists too. This was one of the contributing factors of why some poor whites vote against their economic interests, because of the promotion of fear by the capitalist elites in politics. Still, black people resisted overt tyranny.

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Civil Rights Groups

From 1896 to 1954, massive civil rights organizations existed in America. The NAACP back then was the most powerful black civil rights organization numerically. It had local leaders, religious leaders, professionals, business people, working class people, etc. in its ranks. They worked against the lynching of black people. They also protested anti-black race riots. They fought for voting rights and defended workers’ rights too. From 1940 to 1946, NAACP membership increased from 50,000 to 450,000 members. Communists were involved in civil rights too. Most black people weren’t Communists since Communists embraced atheism (the vast majority of black Americans believe in God) and the stigma many people placed on Communists. Communists had many successes, but the problem was that many of them supported the Hitler-Stalin pact, which was wrong. This caused Communist support in America to decline because of that blunder (as Hitler broke promises and was a racist liar). With the McCarthyism era of the 1950's, the NAACP made the mistake of kicking out any black person who was a Communist even sincere Communists desiring social change.

Paul Robeson was an overt, sincere Communist who believed in freedom and justice. He was an anti-imperialist like WEB DuBois. The NAACP's legal department, headed by Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall, undertook a litigation campaign spanning several decades to bring about the reversal of the "separate but equal" doctrine established in the Supreme Court's decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). The NAACP was heavily involved in the courts to fight for change. The Regional Council of Negro Leadership was created in 1951 by T.R.M. Howard and their famous member was Medgar Evers. The RCNL wanted to end segregation and promote voting rights for black people. Many Jewish people and organizations were involved in the civil rights movement.  Many co-founders of the NAACP were Jewish. Jewish philanthropists supported the NAACP, civil rights groups, and schools for African Americans (like Julius Rosenwald. Rosenwald worked with Booker T. Washington in funding his Tuskegee University). Rosenwald also contributed to HBCUs such as Howard, Dillard and Fisk universities. The PBS television show From Swastika to Jim Crow discussed Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement. It recounted that Jewish scholars fleeing from or surviving the Holocaust of World War II came to teach at many Southern schools, where they reached out to black students. After World War II, the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, and the ADL were active in promoting civil rights.

Also, black women had a big role in the civil rights movement. Dorothy Height, Diane Nash, Fannie Lou Hamer, Septima Clark, Jo Ann Robison, and other black women fought for freedom courageously. The National Association of Colored Women Clubs (NACWC) is an American organization that was formed in July 1896 at the First Annual Convention of the National Federation of Afro-American Women in Washington, D.C. That the National Association of Colored Women was the most prominent organization formed during the African-American Woman Suffrage Movement was due chiefly to the efforts of Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin and Mary Church Terrell. Both women were educated and had economically successful parents. Mary Church Terrell was a black woman who fought against segregation in Washington, D.C. Finally, on June 8, 1953, the court ruled that segregated eating places in Washington, DC, were unconstitutional.  After the age of 80, Terrell continued to participate in picket lines, protesting the segregation of restaurants and theaters in D.C. During her senior years, she also succeeded in persuading the local chapter of the American Association of University Women to admit black members. She lived to see the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, holding unconstitutional the racial segregation of public schools. The Urban League wanted economic opportunities for African Americans.

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Marcus Garvey and the UNIA

One of the most influential movements in African American history was the movement of Marcus Mosiah Garvey. In the midst of oppression and discrimination, nationalist movements thrived in the black community. Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica and he worked to fight for economic rights in Jamaica before arriving in America. After World War I, the first Great Migration caused millions of black Americans to travel into the North, the Midwest, and the West Coast. Black people wanted a better life. Yet, racists oppressed our ancestors. Even in the North (which hypocritically was shown as a better place) still had massive racism and police brutality. Marcus Garvey’s message of self-determination and black pride appealed to tons of black Americans seeking justice. Many unions excluded black people and I believe in unions that promote racial justice. Marcus Garvey was born in 1887 and believed in nationalism like Sun Yat-sen of China and others. Nationalism is the principle that freedom in one nation that is sovereign and autonomous (with the existence of unified cultural cohesiveness)  is key to cause harmony. He wanted the slogan of “Africa for the Africans at home and abroad.” He influenced future nationalist movements like the Nation of Islam and Pan-Africanist movements. He was inspired by Booker T. Washington. Washington’s conservative views was part of his UNIA organization. Marcus Garvey wanted black people to be strong and have the power to control Africa. In 1917, he set up the New York Chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association or the UNIA. It wanted black people worldwide to set up a government and country of our own. It had marches, meetings, and a newspaper called the Negro World.

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It was very popular in America plus globally. It talked about black history, culture, and the goals of the UNIA. Garvey spoke out against anti-black riots in 1917. Many of the early UNIA members were not just black nationalists, but black socialists, conservatives, and liberals. Socialists later distanced themselves from him, because Garvey wanted a black African empire run by him and his supporters. Marcus Garvey's powerful movement started to reach its peak in 1920 with 300,000 people in the UNIA. J. Edgar Hoover hated Garvey because of social and racial reasons. Hoover (we know of Hoover's evil tactics and anti-civil liberty deeds) and the government monitored the UNIA and accused him of tax evasion. It had as high as 500,000 dues paying members. By the mid 1920’s, UNIA membership was 2.5 million strong. Garvey organized businesses and the ship line. The government harassed Garvey and it took a toll on his Black Star project. He was in jail for mail fraud and he was deported to Jamaica. After that, Garvey never came back to America. He died in London in 1940.  Garvey captured the imagination of many Blacks for whom the American Dream was a dirty joke.

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Henry Lincoln Johnson said: "If every Negro could have put every dime, every penny into the sea, and if he might get in exchange the knowledge that he was somebody that he meant something in the world, he would gladly do it...The Black Star Line was a loss in money, but a gain in soul!" It is important to recognize the contributions of Amy Ashwood Garvey and Amy Jacques Garvey who believed in black liberation and gender equality. The Nation of Islam and the Black Power movement took great influence from Garvey’s messages. Marcus Garvey was right to advance black consciousness. He was right to promote self-determination and courage. Also, I don’t agree with Garvey talking with the Klan (like KKK leader Edward Young Clarke) for segregation purposes. The Klan is an eternal enemy of black people. They should never be negotiated with because of their murder, rape, and abuse of black people. WEB DuBois disagreed with Garvey on many issues and vice versa. The problem was that ad hominem attacks came about against both men. No black person should be called out of his or her name period.  Likewise, it is important to cite the fact that internationalism is important and valuable too. If we are to be free as black people, then there must be international cooperation with black people globally in achieving that goal. Marcus Garvey had a lasting impact of black American history. His ideals on respecting Blackness and loving Africa are agreed upon by me forever.

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African Black Brotherhood

The African Black Brotherhood or the ABB is not known by many, but the ABB had a very important role in black American history. The ABB existed after the Red Summer of 1919 where tons of innocent black people were murdered in over 25 major cities by white racist barbarians. Over 500 black people were murdered by these barbarians. Also, it is important to show that black people resisted those pogroms. After WWI, new militant black people rose up. They were called the “New Negro” movement. Many WWI war veterans, who were black, wanted change, self-defense, and justice against racism. Cyril Briggs was a black man who was the voice of the ABB. He wanted African liberation and redemption. The ABB was a Black Nationalist organization that wanted a black nation in America. Many Afro-Caribbeans were part of the ABB too. Briggs did look to socialism and was influenced by the early Russian workers’ state. Briggs supported the Louisiana strike led by the IWW or the Industrial Workers of the world. He wanted black people to form an alliance with the “liberal and radical forces of the world.” Briggs had trouble to bridge the gap between the ABB and the pro-Bolshevik left wing of the Socialist Party. Also, many socialists back then didn’t concern themselves with black people or our issues. Some socialists back viewed black people as only workers not as an oppressed minority in America. Some socialists back then ignored lynching and racism.

Even Lenin forced many Communists to find an alliance with the black freedom struggle. Lenin had long argued that socialists must support the struggles for self-determination by oppressed nationalities and racial minorities-including black people in the U.S., even if it meant defending the right to create their own nation state. At the same time, Lenin argued, socialists must relate to the workers of the oppressed minority, and argue for an independent working class organization and unity across racial and national lines. ABB membership was from 3,000 to 5,000 people. Their movement was found in New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, Trinidad, Surname, British Guiana, Santa Domingo, and the Windward Islands. Briggs wanted self-defense. Briggs would join the Communist Party in 1921. He was a socialist. Most of the ABB's Harlem leadership, including the West Indian-born orator Richard B. Moore, followed Briggs into the Communist Party. Like Briggs, they were impressed by the Bolsheviks' support of national liberation struggles and the anti-racist stance of the Russian workers' state. The ABB believed in black liberation and workers’ power. In order to be free, we have to be revolutionaries.

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The Anti-Lynching Movement

The leader of the antilynching movement during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a black woman named Ida B. Wells. She wrote newspapers, was involved in protests, and used other forms of activism to fight lynching. In her May 21, 1892 editorial, she defended the dignity of black people and exposed racism. Her best known work called “Southern Horrors” made known to the world that black people were being killed, lynched, and abused by racist terrorists. She also advocated self-defense. She wrote that: “…The lesson this teaches…which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give…” WEB DuBois, Walter White, and other early NAACP members fought against lynching too. According to the NAACP, from 1889-1918, about 2,522 black men, women, and children were lynched or violently executed by racist mobs. Lynchers slandered black people in order to promote the system of white supremacy. Many of the dead bodies from lynching were displayed in public. Many non-black people fought against lynching, but the anti-lynching movement in America was headed by black Americans (especially black women). The Southeastern Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs adopted a 1921 statement condemning lynching as a threat in society. The ASWPL or the Southern women for the Prevention of lynching existed in November of 1930. The NAACP fought to get anti-lynching legislation passed in Congress like the Dyer bill during the 1920’s and the Wagner-Costigan bill in 1933. Both bills wanted lynching to be a federal crime. These bills failed in part because of southern segregationist Democrats who opposed such legislation. Organizations fought hard (like Young Women’s Christian Association, Women’s Christian Missionary Society including Eleanor Roosevelt) and lynching declined by the 1940’s, but racism persists to this very day.

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Jazz and Music

Jazz music is part of American history. Jazz was created by black African Americans in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has roots from the blues and ragtime. Since the 1920’s, jazz had been nationally and internationally displayed. It combines many differences influences into one. It uses improvisation, swing and blue notes, response vocals, and other rhythms. It has influences from West African cultural music and European military band music. It continues today. Jazz is a total indigenous American musical art form. Tons of black women were involved in jazz too. Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and others heavily involved in jazz. Bessie Smith was a famous blues singer too. She was called “The Empress of Blues.” Many early jazz musicians played in Storyville or a section of New Orleans known for its nightlife. It spread north into Chicago and other cities via the Great Migration of African Americans. Louis Armstrong who played the trumpet was a great ambassador of jazz internationally. He played music overseas constantly. During the 1920’s or during the Age of Prohibition, jazz was played in underground clubs where alcohol was served. New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, Los Angeles, other cities hosted jazz. The Cotton Club in NYC loved musical performances. Jazz was one way of African Americans expressing themselves. Today, jazz is a worldwide musical art form shown by people of every color. Duke Ellington was an expert not only in jazz, but in the orchestra. He was a legendary musician. He wrote or arranged thousands of pieces of music. He performed in Harlem, Washington D.C., and all over the world. He passed away in 1974.

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Black Americans have always viewed education as an important aspect of our culture. Education is a key way to advance human development. Tons of African Americans back during the 19th and 20th centuries worked in teaching and in other educational endeavors. In the South, segregated schools were readily defunded. There were shortened schedules in rural areas. Despite the evil of segregation, in Washington, DC by contrast, as Federal employees, black and white teachers were paid on the same scale. Outstanding black teachers in the North received advanced degrees and taught in highly regarded schools, which trained the next generation of leaders in cities such as Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York, whose black populations had increased in the 20th century due to the Great Migration. Public education existed in every Southern state from Reconstruction to the present. By 1900, about 30,000 African American teachers were in the South. Most of the black population achieved literacy by 1900. Many teachers worked hard to help children. African American teachers got many children and adults started on education. Northern alliances also funded schools and colleges to teach African Americans. The American Missionary Association and the Congregational and Presbyterian churches funded private schools and colleges in the South. Black people became leaders. Many 20th century industrialists like George Eastman of Rochester, New York gave substantial donations to black educational institutions like Tuskegee Institute.

In 1862, the US Congress passed the Morrill Act, which established federal funding of a land grant college in each state, but 17 states refused to admit black students to their land grant colleges. In response, Congress enacted the second Morrill Act of 1890, which required states that excluded blacks from their existing land grant colleges to open separate institutions and to equitably divide the funds between the schools. The colleges founded in response to the second Morill Act became today's public historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and, together with the private HBCUs and the unsegregated colleges in the North and West, provided higher educational opportunities to African Americans. Federally funded extension agents from the land grant colleges spread knowledge about scientific agriculture and home economics to rural communities with agents from the HBCUs focusing on black farmers and families. In the 19th century, blacks formed fraternal organizations across the South and the North, including an increasing number of women's clubs. They created and supported institutions that increased education, health and welfare for black communities. After the turn of the 20th century, black men and women also began to found their own college fraternities and sororities to create additional networks for lifelong service and collaboration. These were part of the new organizations that strengthened independent community life under segregation.

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The Labor Movement

Labor unions have a right to exist. I believe in unions. The problem back then was that many labor organizations historically excluded African Americans. That was wrong. There were radical labor organizers and many in the steel industry who wanted to appeal to black workers (like those who led organizing drives among packinghouse workers in Chicago and Kansas City during World War I). In 1919, these appeals existed, but many black workers in the North had a distrust of the labor movement because of racism found in many labor unions. The black community and the labor union in many cases had distrust. This continued for years and decades. Left wing political activists in the labor movement made some progress on racial justice matters in the 1920’s and the 1930’s. A. Philip Randolph back during the early 20th century was a long time member of the Socialist Party of America. He was the leader of the fledgling Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters at its founding in 1925. This was a black union group who fought for black workers’ rights. Randolph and his union faced not only from the Pullman Company, but from the press and churches within the black community, many of whom were the beneficiaries of financial support from the company. The union eventually won over many of its critics in the black community by wedding its organizing program with the larger goal of black empowerment. The union won recognition from the Pullman Company in 1935 after a ten-year campaign and a union contract in 1937.

The BSCP was the only black led union within the American Federation of Labor in 1935. Randolph chose to remain within the AFL when the Congress of Industrial Organizations split from it. The CIO was more committed to organizing African American workers. It made strenuous efforts to persuade the BSCP to join it. Randolph believed more could be done to advance black workers’ rights, especially in the railway industry. He remained in the AFL to which the other railway brotherhoods belonged. Randolph remained the voice for black workers within the labor movement. He raised demands to eliminate Jim Crow unions within the AFL at every opportunity. BSCP members like Edgar Nixon played a significant role in the civil rights struggles in the next decades. Many of the CIO union (like the Packinghouse Workers, the United Auto Workers, and Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers) advocated for civil rights. They gained improvements for workers in meatpacking in Chicago and Omaha. They worked in related industries all over the Midwest. The Transport Workers Union of America, which had strong ties with the Communist Party at the time, entered into coalitions with Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the NAACP and the National Negro Congress to attack employment discrimination in public transit in New York City in the early 1940’s.  Back during the 1920’s, A. Philip Randolph was called the “Lenin of Harlem.” He fought against the racist bureaucrats of the AFL or the American Federation of Labor.

The CIO was vocal in wanting the end of discrimination by defense industries during World War II. They combatted racism in their own membership. They put down strikes by white workers who refused to work with black co-workers. Many of these hate strikes were short lived. One racist strike was done in Philadelphia back in 1944 when the federal government ordered the private transits company to desegregate its workforce. It lasted for 2 weeks. It only ended when the Roosevelt administration sent troops to guard the system and arrested the strike’s ringleaders. The CIO was very powerful and recruited a large number of black people.

Randolph and the BSCP took the battle against employment discrimination further. They threatened a March on Washington in 1942 if the government didn’t take steps to outlaw racial discrimination by defense contractors. Randolph limited the March on Washington to black organizations to maintain black leaderships. He endured harsh criticism from others on the left for his insistence on black workers' rights in the middle of a war. Randolph only dropped the plan to march after winning substantial concessions from the Roosevelt administration. Roosevelt signed an executive order banning discrimination in the defense industries on the basis of color. While the Order ostensibly outlawed racist hiring practices in the war industries and the government, it left the Jim Crow military untouched. Nor did it provide for any real powers of enforcement. Randolph after WWII, supported the expulsion of communists and militants from the CIO during the days of Truman, which I disagree with. He supported the anti-communist movement of the 1950’s.

But the civil rights groundswell renewed itself in the 1950s, pushing Randolph to take a more strident tone in his criticisms of Jim Crow unionism. At the 1959 AFL-CIO convention, Randolph urged the federation to force all-white railroad unions to admit Blacks. "Who in hell appointed you as guardian of the Black members in America?" an irritated Meany shouted at Randolph. Two years later, the AFL-CIO censured Randolph for creating a "gap that has developed between organized labor and the Black community." Meany was a reactionary. Meany also supported the Vietnam War and disagreed with Reuther (who was a more progressive man). As time went on, A. Philip Randolph channeled struggles into the Democratic Party by the 1960’s and beyond.

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The Golden Age of Black Business

From 1900 to 1930, there was a golden age of the development of black businesses. Black entrepreneurship has existed for centuries and thousands of years too. Black people were segregated back then. Black people were cut from the larger white community massively. So, black entrepreneurs established many flourishing businesses that catered to black people, including professionals. There were black businesses in the North, in the South, etc. Insurance companies, barbershops, medical companies, etc. grew. Undertakers had a role in communities.   According to the National Negro Business League, the number black-owned businesses doubled rapidly, from 20,000 in 1900 to 40,000 in 1914. There were 450 undertakers in 1900, rising to 1000 in this time period. The number of black-owned drugstores rose from 250 to 695. Local retail merchants – most of them quite small – jumped from 10,000 to 25,000.  Black Wall Street communities existed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Durham, North Carolina, etc.

Booker T. Washington, who ran the National Negro Business League and was president of the Tuskegee Institute, was the most prominent promoter of black business. He traveled from city to city to sign up local entrepreneurs into the national league. Charles Clinton Spaulding was an ally of Booker T. Washington. He was a leader of African American business.   Behind the scenes he was an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930's, with the goal of promoting a black political leadership class. He founded North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, which became America's largest black-owned business, with assets of over $40 million at his death. Black businesses flourished in urban areas, but they didn’t flourish as much in the rural South. The majority of black people lived in the rural South back then. Black people, who were farmers, were depended on one cash crop like cotton or tobacco. Many of them traded with local white merchants. The primary reason was that the local country stores provided credit that is the provided supplies the farm and family needed, including tools, seeds, food and clothing, on a credit basis until the bill was paid off at harvest time. Black businessmen had too little access to credit to enter this business. Indeed, there were only a small number of wealthy blacks; overwhelmingly they were real estate speculators in the fast-growing cities, typified by Robert Church in Memphis. In 1927, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover set up a Division of Negro Affair to provide advice, and disseminate information to both white and black businessmen on how to reach the black consumer. Entrepreneurship was not on the New Deal agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

However, when he turned to war preparation in 1940, he used this agency to help black business secure defense contracts. Black businesses had not been oriented toward manufacturing, and generally were too small to secure any major contracts. President Eisenhower disbanded the agency in 1953.

One of the greatest black business owners of all time was Sister Madame C. J. Walker. She was born in December 25, 1867 in Delta, Mississippi. Her name originally was Sarah Breedlove. She not only made the business called C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She was a philanthropist and a political and social activist. She was the first black female self-made millionaire in America. She lived in Mississippi and in Denver. She expanded her business while she came into Pittsburgh. Her hair care products were very popular.  Walker's system included a shampoo, a pomade stated to help hair grow, strenuous brushing, and applying iron combs to hair. Between 1911 and 1919, during the height of her career, Walker and her company employed several thousand women as sales agents for its products.

By 1917 the company claimed to have trained nearly 20,000 women.  In 1917, inspired by the model of the National Association of Colored Women, Walker began organizing her sales agents into state and local clubs. The result was the establishment of the National Beauty Culturists and Benevolent Association of Madam C. J. Walker Agents (predecessor to the Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Culturists Union of America). She gave funds to the NAACP, the YMCA, and Mary McLeod Bethune’s Dayton Education and Industrial School for Negro Girls (later Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida). She gave scholarships to the Tuskegee Institute. She also sent funds to Indianapolis Flanner House and the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Walker became more involved in political matters after her move to New York. She delivered lectures on political, economic, and social issues at conventions sponsored by powerful black institutions. Her friends and associates included Booker T. Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, and W. E. B. Du Bois, among others. She opposed lynching and racial discrimination. She passed away in NY State in 1919. She was 51 years old.

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One of the greatest film directors was Oscar Deveraux Micheaux. He lived from 1884 to 1951. He lived for 67 years. His legacy was the promotion of black films that showed non-stereotypical images of African Americans. His actions stand in contrast to the slanderous 1915 Birth of a Nation film (made by D. W. Griffith) which lied about black humanity. He was a director and an author. He was the first major African American feature filmmaker. He was the most successful black filmmaker of the first half of the 20th century. He produced silent films and films with sound in them (with speaking actors). His father was born a slave in Kentucky. At 17, he moved into Chicago. He worked at many jobs like a Pullman porter on the major railroads. . Micheaux founded the Micheaux Film & Book Company of Sioux City in Chicago; its first project was the production of The Homesteader as a feature film. His produced film Within Our Gates was in response to the Birth of a Nation according to some. It dealt with relationships, race, and other experiences in Jim Crow America. His other films dealt with the diversity of the lives of black people in America. Micheaux died on March 25, 1951, in Charlotte, North Carolina, of heart failure. He is buried in Great Bend Cemetery in Great Bend, Kansas, the home of his youth. His gravestone reads: "A man ahead of his time.” Indeed, he was ahead of his time. Hattie McDaniel was a great black actress and Clarence Muse was a great black actor too. Paul Robeson and Evelyn Preer were in early 20th century films that inspired audiences globally too. Edna Mae Harris, and Robert Earl Jones (the father of James Earl Jones) performed greatly in film too.

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From World War I to the Great Depression

World War one lasted from 1914 to 1918. Tons of African Americans had crucial roles in the war militarily, socially, and economically. Like most Americans, most African Americans initially opposed American military involvement in World War One. WWI was a war among imperial powers over the resources of the Earth. Colonial forces forced black people and other people of color (from other nations) in the frontlines of battles in numerous circumstances. Later, after the Lusitania was hit by a German U-Boat, America soon was involved in WWI. African Americans were divided. Some opposed the war out of moral, anti-war reasons. Some opposed the war because it was hypocritical to fight for democracy overseas when black people were denied fundamental human rights at home. Many black Americans supported the war for democratic reasons. We know that Woodrow Wilson (who was President during WWI) was a racist and never would desire true democracy to spread for all ethnicities on Earth. Also, Wilson hypocritically passed anti-civil liberty laws like the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act, which suppressed dissent. A. Philip Randolph and Chandler (who were editors of the socialist newspaper “The Messenger”) opposed the war. They wanted African Americans to resist military service. Both men were monitored by the federal government. Ironically, WEB DuBois supported the war as a way for black people to gain freedoms denied in America.

About 370,000 black men were inducted in the Army. Black soldiers were forced to serve in many menial jobs and they faced racism and discrimination. So, black people were fighting overseas and home against discrimination and injustice. Emmett J. Scott was a private secretary to Booker T. Washington. He was the Special Assistant to Secretary of War Newton Baker during World War I in order to oversee the recruitment, training, and morale of the African American soldiers. Only a small percentage of black Americans were in combat. Yet, many African Americans joined the French military forces in combat. African Americans introduced the French to jazz, blues, and other cultural representations. Many black people said that the French were less prejudice against them than white Americans. Units were segregated. Over 2 million black men were registered for the draft. One of the most distinguished units was the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Harlem Hellfighters", which was on the front lines for six months, longer than any other American unit in the war. 171 members of the 369th were awarded the Legion of Merit. On February 18, 1919, the 3,000 veterans of the 369th Infantry were in a parade on Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street to 145th and Lenox (in NYC). The French Army awarded them the prestigious Croix de Guerre. In their ranks was one of the Great War’s greatest heroes, Pvt. Henry Johnson of Albany, N.Y., who, though riding in a car for the wounded, was so moved by the outpouring he stood up waving the bouquet of flowers he’d been handed during the February parade. It would take another 77 years for Johnson to receive an official Purple Heart from his own government.

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Eugene Bullard was one of the greatest black soldiers in WWI. He was the first African American military pilot. He flew for France. He was born in Columbus, Georgia. His ancestors came from Haiti from the days of the Haitian Revolution. World War I began in August 1914, and on October 19, 1914, Bullard enlisted and was assigned to the third Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion. He was awarded by the French. He stood up for civil rights and he was beaten by racists (including the police) in the Peekskill Riots. Bullard wanted to defend Paul Robeson’s right to perform in a benefit concert for the Civil Rights Congress. Black soldiers on August 23, 1917 resisted racism and many of these soldiers were kicked out of the military in Houston. The military created two combat divisions for African Americans. One was the 92nd Division, was composed of draftees and officers. The second, the 93rd Division, was made up of mostly National Guard units from New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Massachusetts. The army, however, assigned the vast majority of soldiers to service units, reflecting a racist belief that black men were more suited for manual labor than combat duty. From May 1918 to November 1918, the 371st and 372nd African American Regiments were integrated under the 157th Red Hand Division commanded by the French General Mariano Goybet. They earned glory in the decisive final offensive in Champagne region of France. The two Regiments were decorated by the French Croix de Guerre for their gallantry in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Corporal Freddie Stowers of the 371st Infantry Regiment was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor—the only African American to be so honored for actions in World War I.

During action in France, Stowers had led an assault on German trenches, continuing to lead and encourage his men even after being wounded twice. Stowers died from his wounds, but his men continued the fight on a German machine gun nest near Bussy farm in Champagne, and eventually defeated the German troops. Stowers was recommended for the Medal of Honor shortly after his death, but according to the Army, the nomination was misplaced. Many believed the recommendation had been intentionally ignored due to institutional racism in the Armed Forces. In 1990, under pressure from Congress, the Defense Department launched an investigation. Based on findings from this investigation, the Army Decorations Board approved the award of the Medal of Honor to Stowers.

On April 24, 1991 – 73 years after he was killed in action — Stowers' two surviving sisters received the Medal of Honor from President George H. W. Bush at the White House. After WWI, DuBois and others promoted Pan-African Congresses to advance freedom for black people worldwide. They wanted independence for colonized areas, but this would be a long process. Black women sacrificed in World War I as well. Aileen Cole Stewart was a black woman who worked during WWI. The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and various clubs supported black troops. Many black women were nurses and met the needs of black soldiers. Many black women worked outside of the home in various jobs. They fought for greater pay and equitable working conditions. Black women fought against lynching and many were involved in strikes for better treatment (like in Mobile, Alabama). After the events of WWI, the Great Depression existed. It devastated the lives of millions of Americans. Millions of people lost finances, lost homes, and lost their normal lives nationwide. Some people were forced to go into soup kitchens to get food. Many people starved. Hoover lost the Presidency to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. FDR's Presidency was filled with many mistakes and legitimate progressive policies. He changed America forever.

Black Americans continued to fight and survived during that era and beyond.

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The New Deal

The New Deal represented a change in American society. It was done by FDR and others in response to labor strikes and the activism of socialists including Communists who wanted radical change. The problem with the New Deal is not that it was Communist. The New Deal was very moderate and capitalist. The problem with the New Deal was that it didn’t go far enough to help African Americans and others. The good parts of the New Deal must be acknowledged along with its errors. African Americans suffered greatly in the Great Depression. Many black people were restricted from receiving the full resources from the New Deal. Black people suffered racism, discrimination, and segregation. Black workers were readily fired constantly. Many employers preferred white workers. Many African Americans workers had to go on public assistance for survival. The WPA, NYA, and CCC relief programs allocated 10% of their budgets to black people (who comprised about 10% of the total population and 20% of the poor). They operated separate all-black units with the same pay and conditions as white units. Some leading white New Dealers, especially Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes, and Aubrey Williams worked to ensure blacks received at least 10% of welfare assistance payments. However, these benefits were small in comparison to the economic and political advantages that whites received. Most unions excluded blacks from joining. Enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in the South was virtually impossible, especially since most blacks worked in hospitality and agricultural sectors. During the New Deal era, millions of Americans were placed into work. Yet, these programs weren’t used specifically to decrease the unemployment rate of African Americans. The Agricultural Adjustment Acts helped mostly white farmers. The Farm Service Agency or FSA tried to help African Americans in its agency committees in the South.

Yet, Senator James F. Byrnes of South Carolina raised opposition to the appointments because he stood for white farmers who were threatened by an agency that could organize and empower tenant farmers. Initially, the FSA stood behind their appointments, but after feeling national pressure FSA was forced to release the African Americans of their positions. The goals of the FSA were notoriously liberal and not cohesive with the southern voting elite. Some New Deal measures inadvertently discriminated against harmed blacks. Thousands of black people were thrown out of work during this era. The NRA was so bad that one NRA study found that 500,000 African Americans were out of work by the NRA. Soon by 1936, more and more black people shifted from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. This was done, because of the New Deal policies causing an alliance among black people and Democrats that continues to the 21st century today. FDR organized the existence of many black people in his administration, which was called the Black Cabinet. New Deal programs were heavily segregated by race. Historian Anthony Badger argues, "New Deal programs in the South routinely discriminated against blacks and perpetuated segregation.” So, the New Deal was very capitalistic and moderate. It didn’t go far enough in attacking capitalism and helping black people to achieve equality.

It is also important to mention the heroes of the New Deal era who did do great work in helping black people. One hero was Mary McLeod Bethune, who was a black woman. She worked hard to give African Americans economic opportunities and educational opportunities. She worked in the National Youth Administration. Mary McLeod Bethune served as an informal organizer of the Council, as well as the Director of Negro Affairs in the National Youth Administration. Rayford Wittingham Logan drafted Roosevelt's executive order prohibiting the exclusion of black human beings from the military in World War II. Other leaders included William H. Hastie, and Robert C. Weaver. The leaders associated with the Black Cabinet are often credited with laying part of the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement that developed in strength in the postwar years. Mary McLeod Bethune heroically fought for justice throughout her life until 1955 (when she passed away). She worked in Florida to support her school, which would be the Bethune-Cookman University today. The New Deal would turn into the era of World War II.

This concludes this chapter of African American history. The Part 5 chapter of this African American historical series will include the African American experience during World War Two.

By Timothy 

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