First, let’s explore the background behind Harlem leading up to the Harlem Renaissance. With the ending of Slavery African Americans began to strive to be citizens like any other race. They wanted political equality and economic and cultural determination. When the Civil War ended the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 gave rise to speeches by African American congressmen addressing the bill. In result, in 1875 sixteen blacks had been elected and served in Congress and gave numerous speeches. Democratic whites did not like the newfound civil empowerment African Americans possessed. As a result they managed to regain their power in the South passing legislation that disenfranchised African Americans and trapping them without representation. White Democrats continued to block African Americans from exercising their civil rights and continued to terrorize black communities (Woods). They made the labor system so hard that it began to force blacks into unpaid jobs as if slavery never ended. At this time life for African Americans became increasingly difficult and they began to move North in huge numbers.
The Great Migration is what they called it! The Great Migration was the main contributing factor that lead to the Harlem Renaissance. African Americans began to migrate North during the early 20th century, three quarter million African Americans escaped the economic downfall of the South and migrate North to urban cities. They were in search of finding good jobs and economic security (Wintz). But all in all to find a more tolerant society to live in. Desperately wanting to escape the harshness of the South. “The Great Migration” greatly expanded African American communities creating a great market for black culture, jazz, blues. The black music of the South came to the North with the migration and was being played in nightclubs throughout Harlem.
Secondly, along with “The Great Migration” education contributed to the Harlem Renaissance. With the migration of African Americans to the south they were also in search of better educational opportunities. New York was a state that prohibited segregated schools by law. So, the opportunity for blacks to have equal educational opportunities by law enhanced the population that became part of the culture movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. Education in Harlem was also influenced by black’s immigration from the West Indies during the 1900’s. West Indies saw New York as a land of greater prosperity and economic opportunities. With the population of foreign born African Americans in New York growing to seventeen percent by the 1930’s (Helbling).The immigrants from the West Indies were highly intelligent with no illiteracy. James Weldon Johnson, a writer of the Harlem Renaissance wrote “they were sober minded, had a genius for business enterprise, and that one-third of the city’s Negro professionals ,physicians, dentists and lawyers were foreign born. In Result of two different populations of Americans moving into Harlem during the 1920’s influenced education in the leadership that emerged.
Lastly, Politics lead to the Harlem Renaissance. Harlem was known for their political movements and heated debates. Some of the political conditions that lead up to the Harlem Renaissance were emancipation and the Southern Diaspora. Emancipation even though it occurred sixty years before the beginning of the Renaissance, which is commonly viewed as the 1920’s. South Diaspora played a role in the politics with the migration of blacks