The Great Migration and the ‘New Negro’, 1915–1930
in The Debate on Black Civil Rights in America
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The 'Great Migration' from 1915 to 1925, during which some 1.25 million blacks left the South to settle in major urban centres of the North like New York and Chicago, was an issue that attracted the attention of white Americans. This chapter discusses the approach of W. E. B. Du Bois to the academic studies on black migrants from a sociological, rather than a historical perspective. The emphasis on cultural awareness and achievement during the Black Power era highlighted the fact that African American cultural history remained a largely neglected area of twentieth century black history. In an influential 1937 article the African American scholar and leading inspiration of the Renaissance, Alain Locke, famously recorded what appeared to be a virtual obituary for the movement.

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