XVI. Emergence of the “New Negro”,
As the nineteenth century drew to a close and the
twentieth century opened, the United States of America was
becoming a major world power.
As African Americans watched
their nation rise to world influence, they debated among
strategies can be conveniently grouped into three major
It was during this period that African Americans
really became an urbanized people.
In 1910 a majority of
African Americans still lived in rural areas, but by 1930 a
majority was living in cities and towns.
No longer was life regulated by nature, but
rather by the routine of business and industry.
church ties were weakened, and other institutions came to
play a more prominent role in peoples’ lives.
traditional ties were weakened, life became more impersonal
But in the big cities, especially those of the
North, there was more personal freedom, less overt racism,
and more personal dignity.
And there was greater
protection of civil rights.
At the same time, greater
opportunities brought greater risks.
There were more
challenges to psychological and social stability, and more
of a chance to fall into socially destructive behavior such
as crime, vice, and family violence.
This period witnessed a much greater visibility for
people of African ancestry in the United States.
Americans re-emerged onto the political scene, but this
time in the big cities of the North.
intellectual leaders consciously sought to celebrate and
define their culture, and popular leaders sought to
establish Black self respect and independence from Euro
Popular musicians articulated the
life experiences of Black patrons in the nightclubs which
were a major part of the urban social scene.
After the Compromise of 1876, many Northerners assumed
that African Americans would no longer be a concern for
them, and that race relations were strictly a Southern
But after a series of violent race riots during
the first two decades of the Twentieth Century, it became
clear to many White Americans that they were still faced
with, as they called it at the time, the “Negro Problem.”