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The African American Story Part 4:

“We are each other’s harvest;


we are each other’s business;
we are each other’s
magnitude and bond.”
“Do not desire to fit in.
Desire to oblige yourselves to
lead”
“Live not for the Battles
Won. Live not for the End of
the Song. Live in the along.”
-Wise Words from Sister
Gwendolyn Brooks.

"What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a


raisin in the sun? Or does it explode?"

-Langston Hughes
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. Also, it is important to show the diversity of black life beyond just a
limited story. All black lives must be shown.

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. This era of time has shown our diversity, but the same unified goal of freedom and justice for
black people.
We still rise.
rise

The Great Migration and The Harlem Renaissance (1910-1940)


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 & the West Coast
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
This is a picture of a black woman and a because of discriminatory policies. This is why the housing
black man walking in Harlem, NYC in 1942 rights movement grew in order to fight for African Americans
(during Easter Sunday). Culture, to have fair housing for real. Many areas like Bronzeville in
intellectual strength, and flavor are part of Chicago and Harlem had a cultural growth. As early as 1903,
our legacies. Philip A. Payton Jr. was an African American real estate agent,
who made deals with white landlords. This was done in order
to lease some Harlem houses to middle class black families
that wanted to leave crowded tenements. White racists in the South didn’t like the Great Migration,
because it caused many white employers to lose black workers due to migration.
These pictures show Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and
Augusta Savage. These geniuses are the three famous black human
beings of the Harlem Renaissance.
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 Christians and non-Christians. 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. LGBTQ people were definitely in the Harlem Renaissance. Back
then, people were arrested for being LBGTQ. Many people accepted people who were gay and lesbian. In
many clubs, there were cabarets and people in drag (like in the Hamilton Lodge Ball). 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 LGBTQ 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.
Unsung People of the Harlem Renaissance

Beauford Belaney was a One of the greatest American painters in Aaron Douglas was a great painter,
modernist painter. He worked on the 20th century was Loïs Mailou illustrator, and visual arts educator of
many paintings during the Jones. She was involved in the Harlem the Harlem Renaissance too. His
Harlem Renaissance and Renaissance too. She was a teacher work exposed racism and
afterwards. His abstract too. For decades, she has inspired segregation in America. He was born
expressionism was excellent. He humanity with her artwork. She was born in Topeka, Kansas. He married Alta
was born in Knoxville, in Boston and she lived for 92 years Sawyer, who was a teacher. He has
Tennessee. His brother (Joseph) from 1905 to 1998. In 1945, she been called, “The father of Black
was a painter too. He moved into received a BA in art education from American Art.”
Paris during the 1950’s where he Howard University, graduating magna
lived until his passing at 1979. cum laude. She traveled into the
Caribbean and Africa to be inspired in
her art. She wanted to not let her art to
be bounded or limited and she showed
love of her African roots and American
ancestry.

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.
The image on the left is the artist from the Harlem Renaissance Aaron Douglas and his wife
Alta Swayer. The image on the right is one of Douglas’ famous works. It is called, Aspiration
from 1936.

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. She 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.
Dancing and the Harlem Renaissance go hand in hand. Men and women performed a diversity of dances
during the time period. We can never be overlooked as dance is an important part of black culture in
general. The Savoy Ballroom was a rare integrated place where people of diverse classes and races danced.
The shimmy was a dance is that uses shoulder shaking and hip movement. It came from Haiti and Nigeria.
The cakewalk was done by African Americans from Florida plantations (which was done as the solemn walk
from the Seminole Native Americans). Racist slave owners forced slaves to perform the dance and the
winner received a piece of cake. Cakewalks competitions existed during the Harlem Renaissance. The
Charleston was done in jazz and it was very popular during the Harlem Renaissance. People performed the
Lindy Hop too. Two famous dancers during the Harlem Renaissance were Josephine Baker and Bill
“Bojanges” Robinson. Josephine Baker was a singer, actress, and comedian. She was born in 1906 in St.
Louis, Missouri. She traveled also into Paris and performed. Many French people loved her talent. She
became a global icon for her dancing and for her civil rights activism. She passed away at the age of 68 in
the year of 1975 in Paris, France. Bill Robinson was in Broadway and Hollywood. He could dance and he
served in World War I as a rifleman. He was a great tap dancer and audiences respected him. He worked in
baseball and theater. By 1936, he was the co-founder of the New York Black Yankee team. He sent his
wealth to charities. He passed away in 1949 at the age of 71. Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole,
Count Bassie, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, the Nicholas Brothers, and other great black performances
either sang great songs or danced in an excellent fashion during this creative time period.
Jeni LeGon was a famous performer of the 20th century. She lived from 1916 to 2012. She was
one of the first African-American women to establish a solo career in tap. She danced with
some of the greatest dancers of her time.

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.

The picture to the left is a picture of a


beautiful black woman. This picture was
taken by a black photographer named
James Van Der Zee. He is well known for
taking pictures of the growing middle
class African American community
during the Harlem Renaissance.
Social movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1890-1945)
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 including 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. Back
then, the Republicans were more progressive than the Democrats. Today, it is the opposite. 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, etc.). 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 a 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 (back then and to this
very day), because of the promotion of fear by the capitalist elites in politics. Still, black people heroically
resisted overt tyranny.

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.

The image to the left shows Lena Horne and Paul Robeson. The image to the right shows
Claudia Jones, Paul Robeson, and Amy Ashwood Garvey in London.

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. At
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.
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 by some),
there was still had massive racism, economic oppression, discrimination, 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 on August 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. He was the youngest of 11 children. His
father was Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr. and his mother was Sarah Jane Richards. He experienced racism
throughout his life. He worked as an apprentice of a printer. By 1903, he visited Kingston and other places
in Jamaica. In 1907, the compositor’s branch of the printer’s union elected him for the post of its Vice
President. He joined a printer’s strike from 1908 to 1909 to demand higher wages. This caused him to be
more involved in political activities.

For many years, he visited Central America. He lived in Costa Rica in 1911 and he was the editor of “La
Nacionale” or a daily newspaper. He moved into Colon, Panama where he served as the editor of a
biweekly newspaper. He stayed in London from 1912 to 1914. At that time, he worked for the journal,
“African Times and Orient Review.” He gave a speech at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner. When he returned
into Jamaica in 1914, he formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association of the UNIA. In 1916,
Marcus Garvey came into the United States to raise funds for establishing a school in Jamaica. He also met
with many black leaders there too. Marcus Garvey 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 were part of his UNIA organization. In fact, Booker T.
Washington and Marcus Garvey corresponded with each other. 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.

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.

In 1917, he or Garvey formed the first UNIA division in Harlem, NYC. He spoke about economic, social, and
political freedom for black people. In 1918, his publication of “Negro World” was a way to convey his
message on freedom for black people in a wide spread way. In 1919, he started the establishment of the
Black Star Line or a shipping company by Marcus Garvey and the UNIA. The purpose of this company was to
establish trade and commercial activities of Africans who are in America, South and Central America,
Canada, Africa, and the Caribbean. In 1919, he created the Negro Factories Association. This wanted to
produce marketable products in important places of the Western countries plus Africa. He planned to
develop the businesses to manufacture every marketable commodity in every big U.S. industrial center, as
well as in Central America, the West Indies, and Africa. Related endeavors included a grocery chain,
restaurant, publishing house, and other businesses. On October 14, 1919, Garvey received a visit in his
Harlem office from George Tyler, who claimed Kilroe "had sent him" to get the leader. Tyler pulled a .38-
caliber revolver and fired four shots, wounding Garvey in the right leg and scalp. Garvey's secretary Amy
quickly arranged to get Garvey taken to the hospital for treatment, and Tyler was arrested. The next day,
Tyler committed suicide by leaping from the third tier of the Harlem jail as he was being taken to his
arraignment. In August of 1920, he delivered an inspirational speech about the great, rich heritage of
African culture at the International Convention of UNIA in New York City. In that year, UNIA elected him as
its provisional president of Africa. Later in 1922, he allowed the first volume of his “Philosophy and
Opinions of Marcus Garvey” to exist.

Marcus Garvey's powerful movement started to


reach its peak in 1920 with some claiming 4,000,000
people in the UNIA. By 1920, the association had
over 1,900 divisions in more than 40 countries. Most
of the divisions were located in the United States,
which had become the UNIA's base of operations.
There were, however, offices in several Caribbean
countries, with Cuba having the most. Divisions also
existed in such diverse countries as Panama, Costa
Rica, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Venezuela, Gold Coast
(now Ghana), Sierra Leone, Liberia, India, Australia,
Nigeria, South West Africa (now Namibia), and the
Union of South Africa. On August 1, 1920, the

This image shows the UNIA Women's International Convention of the UNIA was held. It
was when it had delegates from all over the world
Brigade on Parade in Harlem, NYC in 1924
attending, 25,000 people filled Madison Square
Garden to hear Garvey speak. The UNIA held an
international convention in 1921 at New York City's Madison Square Garden. Also represented at the
convention were organizations such as the Universal Black Cross Nurses, the Black Eagle Flying Corps, and
the Universal African Legion. Garvey attracted more than 50,000 people to the event and in his cause. The
UNIA had more than one million due paying members at its peak. Over the next couple of years (after
1920), Garvey's movement was able to attract an enormous number of followers. Reasons for this included
the cultural revolution of the Harlem Renaissance, the large number of West Indians who immigrated to
New York, and the appeal of the slogan "One God, One Aim, One Destiny," to black veterans of the first
World War. The national level of support in Jamaica helped Garvey to become one of the most influential
leaders of the 20th century on the island. Ho Chi Minh stayed for some time in New York, working as a
laborer and going to meetings of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Trust in Harlem.

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 in
1922 as it relates to the commercial activities of the Black Star Line. 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. He was imprisoned for five years in 1923. He was released in 1927.
After that, Garvey never came back to America. While he was in Jamaica, he was busy working in various
political activities. In 1928, he visited Geneva to present the Petition of the Negro Race that exposed the
worldwide abuse of black people.

In 1929, he set up the People’s Political Party in Jamaica to protect workers’ rights, women’s rights, and
provide educational facility for the poor. He was soon elected councilor of the Allman Town Division of the
Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation. By 1931, the establishment of the Edelweiss Amusement Company
was created by him and it helped many Jamaican artists. He started to publish the New Jamaican or an
evening newspaper in 1932. It didn’t continue due to financial issues. He moved into London by 1935. He
worked on involvement in discussing about Ethiopia and the Caribbean. He wrote his “The Tragedy of
White Injustice” in 1935 too. In 1938, he established the School of African Philosophy. He did this to help
train leaders of the UNIA. He worked for “The Black Man” which was a magazine as well. Garvey captured
the imagination of many black people who believed that the American Dream was a dirty joke. He married
former secretary Amy Ashwood. They divorced after 3 years. In 1922, he married Amy Jacques. They had 2
children, which were Marcus Mosiah Garvey III and Julius. He experienced 2 strokes. He passed away in
London in the year of 1940.

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. I definitely disagree with WEB DuBois’s colorist remarks about Marcus Garvey. Colorism is wrong and
evil completely as Black is Beautiful. No black person should be called out of his or her name period. To this
very day, many people want a pardon of Marcus Garvey. Me personally, I agree with a pardon as a way to
move forward.

Also, 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. Also, we realize that capitalist exploitation doesn’t work, but economics based on human rights,
cooperation, living wages, helping the poor, and workers’ rights will work. During a trip to Jamaica,
Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King visited Garvey's shrine on June 20, 1965 and laid a
wreath. In a speech he told the audience that Garvey "was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass
movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and
destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody." Marcus Garvey had a lasting impact of black
American history. His ideals on respecting Blackness, honoring self-determination, and loving Africa are
agreed upon by me forever.
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.

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 and Women’s Christian Missionary
Society including Eleanor Roosevelt) and lynching declined by the 1940’s, but racism persists to this very
day.

Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Thelma Carpenter, Duke Ellington, Louis


Armstrong, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, Pearl Bailey were legends of jazz
culture.

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.
Numerous Jazz Legends

Sarah Vaughan has been a legend in Ella Fitzgerald was a great, Theolonious Monk has been
jazz music for decades. This picture legendary jazz singer. He has an innovator, a legend, and a
shows her performing the great song, shown impeccable diction, great pianist. He was a
"September in the Rain" in Sweden phrasing, and intonation. She composer. He used great
back in 1958. Richard Davis plays bass,
showed an excellent improvisation in his music.
Ronnell Bright plays piano, and Art
Morgan was using drums. Vaughan was improvisational ability too. She He is known to contribute
a four-time Grammy Award winner, was born in Newport News, greatly to the style of jazz.
including a "Lifetime Achievement Virginia, which is in the 757. She He is known for making
Award." The National Endowment for performed in the Savoy Ballroom musical songs like Round
the Arts bestowed upon her its "highest in Harlem. Fitzgerald's rendition Midnight, Ruby, My Dear,
honor in jazz," the NEA Jazz Masters
of the nursery rhyme "A-Tisket, A- Walked Bud, Blue Monk, etc.
Award, in 1989. She worked with many
fellow legends Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Tasket" helped boost both her and Theolonious Monk
Eckstine. She was born in Newark, New Webb to national fame. She displayed an orthodox style
Jersey in 1924 and lived to be 66 and she collaborated with Louis Armstrong to the piano. He was born in
passed away in 1990. Her voice was and Duke Ellington. Her solo Rocky Mount, North
unforgettable. career lasted for decades. Ella Jane Carolina and he was raised in
Fitzgerald lived to be 79 and NYC. He lived from 1917 to
passed away at the year of 1996. 1982.
Fitzgerald was a quiet but ardent
supporter of many charities and
non-profit organizations, including
the Association and the City of
Hope National Medical Center. In
1993, she established the Ella
Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.
Education

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.

These rare pictures show African Americans from the 1940’s.

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.
We should remember the story about Henrietta Lacks. Her story is a story of exploitation, of medicine, and
of the history of America. Henrietta Lacks was a hard working black woman. By 1951, she experienced an
illness. It was an adenocarcinoma of the cervix. Part of her body was removed without her permission. The
cells from her cervix were given to Dr. George Otto Gey. These cells grew back then and they continue to
exist today. These cells are called the HeLa immortal cell line. They have been used in biomedical research
for decades. They are identical cells and they flourish today. Many people have used them to fight polio,
HIV, measles, mumps, ebola, etc. Millions of patients have been helped with the HeLa cells without the
family knowing about it until decades later by 1971. The family fought and in 2013, the family got the right
to make the genome of Henrietta Lacks’ genome available only to scientists who apply as well as to serve
on a working group that will help review the applications. Her family never received true economic
compensation for her cells. Henrietta Lacks passed away in October 4, 1951. She lived for 31 years as she
was born in 1920. Her legacy is eternal.
There is a new film starring Oprah Winfrey (who will play Henrietta Lacks' daughter Deborah) about the life
of Henrietta Lacks. It's entitled, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." It will be shown in HBO. We should
all recognize the significance of the life of the late Sister Henrietta Lacks. She passed away at a young age,
but scientists stole her cells without her consent. Her cells were used to treat and cure many illnesses and
diseases, but she was exploited of her body without her permission. The film will show Lacks' daughter
Deborah fighting for the truth. Other actors and actresses in the film will include: Leslie Uggams, Courtney
B. Vance, Rocky Carroll,Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Rose Byrne, Reg E. Cathey, Reed Birney, John Douglas
Thompson, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Adriane Lenox, Kyanna Simone Simpson and Roger Robinson. Lacks'
cells continue to grow and exist to this day. The trailer is an emotional trailer. Henrietta Lacks' family has
fought for accountability involving this situation.

RIP Sister Henrietta Lacks.


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.
A. Philip Randolph is the person to the
Randolph and the BSCP took the battle against employment right and he is testifying before the
discrimination further. They threatened a March on Washington Senate Armed Services Committee on
in 1942 if the government didn’t take steps to outlaw racial
March 31, 1948. (AP Photo)
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. Ruether supported the 1963 March on Washington). As time went on, A. Philip
Randolph channeled struggles into the Democratic Party by the 1960’s and beyond.
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 per se.
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.

Films

One of the greatest film directors was Oscar Deveraux Micheaux (who was a black man). 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.
From World War I to the Great Depression (1914-1933)
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. Ironically, this year of 2017 is the 100th year anniversary of U.S. involvement in World
War One. 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.
The man on the left is Eugene Bullard and the woman on the right is Aileen Cole Stewart.

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.

He was William Henry Johnson. He was the


member of the Harlem Hellfighters during
World War One. He was a Sergeant, New
York National Guard, and part of the 369th
Infantry Regiment. On watch in the Argonne
Forest on May 14, 1918, he saved a fellow
soldier’s life while having 21 wounds and
surviving. Mr. Johnson knew hand to hand
combat. Later, he received the Croix de
guerre (Palm and Star on 1918. He was the
first American to receive such an honor. In
1919 co-founder of the American Legion
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of former
United States President Theodore Roosevelt,
referred to Johnson as one of the “five
bravest Americans” to have served in World
War I. William Henry Johnson received
posthumously the Purple Heart in 1996 sent
by then President Bill Clinton. By 2002, he
was posthumously awarded the Distinguished
Service Cross and the Medal of Honor by
2015 by then President Barack Obama. His
passing was in 1929 at the age of 36. He was
a brave man.
These are images from the 1919 Pan African Congress of Paris, France.

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.
The New Deal (1933-1941)
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 black
people 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.

This is Mary McLeod Bethune helping black young people in the Phyllis Wheatley YMCA at
Washington, D.C.

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.

I close with Sister Mary McLeod Bethune’s inspirational words:

"Democracy is for me, and for 12 million black Americans, a goal towards which our nation
is marching. It is a dream and an ideal in whose ultimate realization we have a deep and
abiding faith. […] Here my race has been afforded [the] opportunity to advance from a
people 80 percent illiterate to a people 80 percent literate; from abject poverty to the
ownership and operation of a million farms and 750,000 homes; from total disfranchisement
to participation in government; from the status of chattels to recognized contributors to the
American culture.”

– Mary McLeod Bethune on NBC radio, 1939


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,
Two , the Second Great Migration, and the Korean War.
War.

By Timothy