Politics during the Harlem Renaissance

Politics during the Harlem Renaissance was a very controversial time in the United States of America. The Harlem Renaissance was a time of change and a time where people wanted to bring about change, not just in culture, and literature, but politics as well.

The Harlem Renaissance brought about an explosion of African American art, music, literature, and so much more. However, there was uncertainty about whether Harlem had become the Negro metropolis, black Manhattan, the political, cultural, and spiritual center of African American and a city of refuge, or a black ghetto and emerging slum. The Harlem Renaissance was also known as “The New Negro Movement” because it made people realize and pay attention to all of the African American artists, writers and even politicians that were starting to become known during this time. African American music and art influenced politics by making people want to make a difference and wanting to bring about change in the world. While the Harlem Renaissance was a literary movement, it also was a time where all African Americans were touched by the use of art, and racial pride as well as equality. It was a time where many people were starting to really take black culture and literature seriously and attracted a large amount of attention from the nation.

Marcus Garvey was one of few politicians during the Harlem Renaissance. Marcus was born Jamaica on August 17, 1887. “He was the leader of “Garveyism”, which was defined as an aspect of African American nationalism that refers to the economic and the political policies of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.”

(History 2009) The UNIA-ACL was dedicated to the unification and empowerment of African-American men, women, and children. As a group, the UNIA-ACL fought for “separate but equal” status for people of African ancestry and they sought to start independent black status around the world, primarily noticed in Liberia, which is on the west coast of Africa. Marcus authored the “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World”. This document was ratified at the Universal Negro Improvement Association Convention at Madison Square Garden in 1920. Garvey was arrested in 1922 on charges of mail fraud and his projects began to collapse. Garvey then focused on putting his dreams toward the response to the marginalization and discrimination of African Americans in the United States. After Garvey was released from prison, he traveled to Switzerland to address the League of Nations on the issues of race and worldwide abuse of African-Americans.

Later during the Harlem Renaissance, the main theme was an effort to recapture the African American past. “ Interest in the African past corresponded with the rise of Pan-Africanism in African American politics, which was at the center of Marcus Garvey’s ideology and also a concern of W. E. B. Du Bois in the 1920s.” (Wintz 2015) Using his influence as editor of the Crisis, he promoted the work of many African American visual artists and writers W.E.B. Du Bois was a sociologist who decided to bring about political equality by taking his sociological ideas and presenting them to different people. He was also a civil rights activist which showed that he worked tirelessly to bring about racial equality in the United States. In 1905, Du Bois was a founder and general secretary of the Niagara Movement, an African American protest group of scholars and professionals which was a political movement to further the civil rights cause. The Movement stood apart from other black organizations at the time because of its powerful, unequivocal demand for equal rights.

W.E.B. Du Bois co-founded the N.A.A.C.P., also known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. The NAACP has done a couple of different things during the Harlem Renaissance such as fighting for injustices. Some of these injustices include denial of voting rights, racial violence, and discrimination in employment as well as segregated public facilities. Brown V. Board of Education was a key victory in the organization’s history, it was the US Supreme Court’s decision that outlawed segregation in public schools. The NAACP was dedicated to the idea of an integrated society, leadership has always been interracial but the membership remained predominantly African American. When you become a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People they give you a membership card, this membership card is what makes you a member, it allows you to gain access to meetings, its similar to a citizenship document or a visa granting citizenship.

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