Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Charles S. Johnson (1893-1956)

What’s going on in Harlem? (Mar. 6, 2010)

            “In Manhattan, there is the largest Black agglomeration in the world. Harlem of the 1920’s witnessed the convergence of all kinds of Black people: workers, peasants, students, businessmen, professionals, artists, poets, intellectuals, musicians, adventurers, preachers, criminals, exploiters, and pariahs.  Blacks from north and south USA, from the Caribbean islands, and from Africa flocked to Harlem. Each Black person arrived with his objectives, purposes, needs, and dreams; for all, the essential was this mutual meeting so that prejudices and proscriptions were thrown together within a sphere of contacts and interactions.

            This sympathy of race and union generated a fusion of profound feelings and common experiences. In Harlem of the 20’s Black life discovered its first chances of collective expressions and auto-determination.  Very recently, we had no idea of who we were, much less who were the “others”: We were real problems to ourselves.  Thus, we had to get to work and recognize our dignity and recapture confidence for a new dynamic phase of community Black life.  For every external pressure and challenge an appropriate internal response was demanded.  Blacks migrating from suburbs and small villages to Harlem crossed with a single leap several generations of experiences.

            What is happening in Harlem may not be unique in the world: It was an inevitable reaction.  It is significant and prophetic: a new psychology is transforming Black masses and getting them on the move; they are leading the Black leaders. This new spirit of confidence is repudiating social dependence; the Negros are healing their hypersensitivities and breaking away of their social disillusionment; they are collaborating toward the joint community by taking on their responsibilities.  It is now up to the White majority to change race domination attitudes and begins cultural exchange and the diffusion of brighter lights for integration.” (The new Negro: An interpretation, 1925)

            Alain Locke (1885-1954) is a Black philosopher and intellectual; he was one of the main activists who launched “Harlem Renaissance” movement.  Although Locke studied in Harvard, Oxford, Berlin, and College de France he could not teach but in Black universities when he returned to the USA.  Joining forces with WEB Du Bois and Charles S. Johnson (1893-1956) he established the association of defense for Blacks (NAACP) and issued magazines such as Crisis, Opportunity, and The Negro World.  This Harlem Renaissance influenced the founders of French “Negritude” intellectuals and authors in Paris of the 30’s; many US Black students and intellectuals flocked to Paris in the 50’s.

            Alain Locke assembled reproductions of Black arts, partitions, bibliographies, and discography; Locks’ anthology offered a formidable balance sheet of Blacks productions in art, music, literature and intellectual works of Black issues and problems around the world: Black thinking and feeling was being disseminated. It was a productive reaction of minorities to the segregationist pressures of the White majority.

            Adversity generated solidarity and initiatives to re-enforce self confidence and increased dignity to overcoming inferiority complexes of many generations of slavery and humiliation.  Locke’s activist and work produced the Black movements of the 50’s and 60’s demanding political civil rights.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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