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The New Negro: Explorations in Identity and Social Consciousness, 1910-1922 • by Ernest Allen, Jr.

The New Negro: Explorations in Identity and Social Consciousness, 1910-1922 • by Ernest Allen, Jr.

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in 1915: The Cultural Moment, eds. Adele Heller and Lois Rudnick
(New Brunswick, NJ : Rutgers University Press, 1991), 48-68
in 1915: The Cultural Moment, eds. Adele Heller and Lois Rudnick
(New Brunswick, NJ : Rutgers University Press, 1991), 48-68

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05/15/2014

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original

 
in
1915
The
Cultural
Moment,
eds
 
Adele
Heller
and
Lois
Rudnick
(New
Brunswck,
N
 
Rutgers
University
Press,
1991 ,
48-68
The
New
Negro
Explorations
in
Identity
and
SocialConsciousness,
1910-1922
ERNEST
ALLEN,
JR
The
world
of
the
future
will
look
upon
the
world
of
today
as
an
essentially
new
turn-
ing
point
in
the
path
of
human
progress
 
Alloverthe
world
the
spirit
of
democratic
striving
is
making
itselffelt
 
The
new
ssues
have
brought
forth
new
ideas
of
freedom
politics
industry
and
societyat
large
 
Thenew
Negro
living
in
this
new
world
is
just
as
responsive
to
these
new
mpulses
as
other
peopleare
 
HU ERT
HENRY
HARRSON
1917
If
social
developments
just
prior
to
and
dur-ing
Wrld
Wr
I
ushered
inthe
era
of
the
New
Politics,
the
New
Sexuality,
the
New
Wman
and
the
New
American
Culture
it
also
gave
rise
to
the
New
Negro,
whose
rela-
tionship
to
these
other,
pioneering
social
trends
proved
to
be
rather
problematic
 
The
greatest
parallels
and
intertwnings
between
black
and
white
developments
of
theera
are
to
be
found
in
the
New
olitics
where,
in
New
York
City
especially,
a
small
but
fervent
number
of
native-born
black
Americans
and
recently
arrived
Wst
Indians
were
to
cast
their
lot
wth
the
Socialist
or
Communist
parties
 
On
the
other
hand,
wthin
the
New
Culture
movement,
whose
 participants
were
boundby
a
common
commtment
to
de-
molish
the
genteel
traditionin
order
to
create
a
new
American
culture
in
its
place there
were
few
echoes
to
be
found
among
blacks
 
True,
among
New
Negro
radicals
was
to
be
found
the
general
belief
thatart
should
support
progressive
social
changeHowever,
even
black
radicals
tended
to
harboran
over-
whelmng
desire
fortheprojectionof
idealized,
genteel
 Negro
types
in
litera-
ture,
and
their
interest
in
African
American
theatre
stemmedmore
from
the
desire
to
steer
existing
productions
from
the
realm
ofslapstick,
vaudevillian
entertainment
to
more
serioustheatrical
efforts,
rather
than
toward
the
kinds
ofradical
experimentation
that
such
drama
groups
as
the
Provincetown
Players
were
seeking
to
accomplish
2
Sm
ilarly,
the
subjects
of
Freudianism
and
the
New
Wman
found
few
echoes
wthin
the
ranks
of
black
economc
or
political
radicals,
orthe
later
New
Negro
cultural-
ists
 
Moreover,
except
perhaps
as
exoticother,
African
Americans
distinguished
themelves
by
their
relative
absence
from
the
discourse
of
white
radicals
of
the
period
Undeniably
influenced
by
but
temporally
lagging
behind
the
radical
political
trends
among
whites,
the
New
Negro
movement
fol
lowed
its
own,
relatively
autonomous
social
dynamc
 
Two
major
questions
concern
ushere
How
didthe
New
Negro
movement a
term
employ
in
this
essay
to
denote
the
broad
array
of
radical
political,
economc,
and
cultural
tendencies
emergingfrom
a
blackavant-
garde
located
primarily
in
New
York
Cty
relate
to
its
antecedentswthin
pre-Wrld
Wr
I
African
America
~
And
whatwas
the
relation
between
this
movement
and
parallel
radical
tendencies
that
emerged
among
white
American
intellectuals
during
roughly
this
same
period
?
In
the
late
nineteenth
century
desires
for
economc
stability
and
economc
democracy
on
the
part
of
blacktenant
farmers
and
agrarian
and
industrial
wage
earners
alike
found
wde,
organized
expression
in
groups
such
asthe
Colored
Farmers
Alliance
and
the
Knights
of
Labor
 
Among
the
masses
of
working-class
AfricanAmericans,
issues
concerning
oppression
and
the
lack
of
for-
mal
political
democracy
 the
right
to
testify
in
court
or
to
vote,
for
example),
while
 
certainly
not
ignored
tended
to
remain
sub-
ordinate
to
more
pressing
economc
and
directly
allied
political
questions
Agrarian
protest
by
blacks
afterthe
1890s
would
prove
sporadic
 
nd
aside
from
pockets
of
organizing
by
the
Industrial
Wrkers
ofthe
Wrld
 
and
federal
American
Feder-
ationof
Labor
 
FL
unions the
proletar-
ian
impulse
among
the
African
American
working
masses
would
have
to
wait
forthe
industrial
unionism
of
the
1930s
to
discoverorganizational
bedrock
.
3
Second,
among
the
working
masses
was
to
be
found
a
senseofblack
group
identity
and
of
a
collective
black
group
culture
existing
apart
from
that
of
the
domnant
American
identity
and
culture
Wile
entertaining
regional
varia-
tions
this
senseof
group
identity
func-
tioned
as
a
strong
force
in
the
collective
African
American
consciousness
man-
ifesting
itself
in
cooperative
enterprises
such
as
mutual-aid
or
insurance
societies
orother
all-blackinstitutions
such
as
churches
and
lodges
 
On
the
other
hand,
wthin
the
African
American
 mddle
class
just
prior
to
Wrld
Wr
I
thereexisted
twopredomnant
ideological
tendencies
two
 clusterings
of
ideological
elements
if
you
will
both
of
which
ultimately
drewupon
opposing
no
tions
of
African
American
social
identity
and
of
African
American
socialjustice
.
Dat-ing
from
the
early
nineteenth
century theolder
tendency
clustered
around
notions
of
immediate
assimlation
politicalagitation
and
demands
for
full
civil
rights
andwas
so-
cially
anchored
in
the
educated
strata
of
African
American
professionals
such
as
doctors
lawyers
mnisters
and
teachers
 
The
more
recent
tendency
revolved
around
anemphasison
race
pride solidarity
and
self-help
on
inner-group
economc
and
moralimprovement,
andwas
rooted
inthe
growng
entrepreneurial
strata
ofthe
post-
Civil
Wr
era4
The
latter
of
course
was
the
black
worldview
identified
wth
and
popu-
larized
by
Booker
T
Wshington
Consis-
tent
wththe
class
formation
ofthe
African
American
business-oriented
strata
was
the
notion
thatthe
road
to
black
political
libera-
THE
NEW
NEQRO
49
tion
could
be
reached
through
existing
portalsof
economc
opportunity
 
the
learn-
ing
of
skilled
trades
and
the
securing
of
land
and
business
ownership
Once
African
Americans
had
made
themelves
indis-
pensable
to
the
domnant
economy,
they
believed
there
was
no
way
that
their
par
ticipation
in
the
realm
of
politics
could
be
denied
From
he
latter
part
of
the
nineteenth
cen-
tury
onward
thestruggle
between
these
two
worldviews-the
assimlationist-oriented
protest
tradition
and
the
more
nationalist
and
economcally
oriented
one-represented
a
strugglefor
ideological
and
political
he
gex~ony
among
the
dual
social
fractions
comprising
the
black
mddle
class
 
That
clash
was
personified
in
the
rift
between
 
E
.B
 
u
Bois
and
members
and
followers
ofthe
Nagara
Movement
on
the
onehand
;
supporters
of
Booker
T
Wshington
and
the
 TuskegeeMachine
on
the
other
.
But
the
social
impact
of
Wrld
Wr
I
coupledwth
the
death
of
Wshington
in
1915,
resulted
in
immediate
as
well
as
long-term
trans-
formations
ofthe
ideological
landscape
of
African
America
Economcally,
the
result-
ingSouth-to-North
black
mgration
of
some
one halfmllion
souls
during
the
war
brought
multitudes
ofblacks
notonly
into
compact,
urban
communities,but
also
for
a
great
many
of
them
into
a
cash
economy
forthe
first
time
Thewar
itself
resulted
in
the
army
service
of
some
380,000
black
soldiers
11
percent
of
whom
were
actually
assigned
to
combat
units
 
Their
novel
experiences-
especially
of
those
men
who
saw
actual
combat-instilled
in
them
a
determnation
to
bring
back
to
American
shoresa
little
of
the
democracy
for
which
theUnited
States
had
supposedly
fought
overseas
.
Most
im
portantly
the
spatial
and
political
configu-
rations
of
northern,
urban
centers
offered
possibilities
for
self-organization
and
physi-
cal
self-defense-a
potential
not
unnoticed
by
blacks
during
the
ensuing
race
riots
that
rocked
the
North
especially
 
Informal
political
term black
male
m
grants
of
voting
age
were
now
able
to
 
5
0
IOLEONING
TEIE
ADVEC~
OF
THL
 OLD
CBOVD
IJLGRO
FiaURE
13
 Followng
the
Advice
ofthe`Od
Crowd
Negro
.
The
Messenger(September
1919),
p
17
New
York
PublicLibrary,
Astor,
Lenox
and
Tilden
Foundations
exercise
the
franchise
 
in
a
larger
politicalsense,
the
availability
of
relative
freedom
of
expression
and
of
association
in
the
North
allowed
for
participation
in
independent
trade
unions,
protest
groups,
and
the
like,
which
(theoreticaly,
at
least
need
not
con-
fine
themelves
to
the
sphere
of
reformsm
alone
And
finally,
theexistence
of
relatively
large
and
compact,
black
urban
communities
allowed
forthe
flowering
of
commercially
viable,
black
cultura
expressions
(from
which
black
folk
themelves
-
did
not
always
cull
the
principal
economcrewards
to
be
had)
 
These
included
the
production
of
books,
magazines,
and
especialy
news-papers
 
a
race
record
 
industry
in
the
form
of
 separate
butequal
taent
recruitment,recording,
and
distributionof
black
musical
formby
domnant
recording
companies,
black
theatre,
wth
its
popular
but
 as
black
 mddle-class
commentatorswould
com
plain)
excessive
emphasis
upon
vaudevillian
form
;
as
well
as
numerous
restaurants,cabarets,
and
notorious
 buffet
flats
whereone
mght
sample
all
possible
varieties
of
African
American
life
 
Recently
arrived
southernmgrants
constituted
a
formdable
political
and
cultura
force
which,
in
the
teens
and
twenties,
had
yet
to
determne
its
ERNEST
ALLEN
JRown,independent
voice
apart
from
he
black
petit
bourgeoiselements
which
sought
to
di-
rect
its
formdable
energies
Their
sudden
presence
during
the
war
transformed
the
face
of
the
northernmetropolis
Here
was
the
source
of
the
New
Negro,
or
as
 
Philip
Randolph
defined
him
the
 New
Crowd
Negro
:
As
among
other
peoples,the
New
Crowd
must
be
composed
of
young
menwho
are
educated,
radical
and
fearless
 
Young
Negro
radicals
must
control
the
press,
church
schools,politics
and
labor
 
The
conditions
forjoiningthe
New
Crowd
are
ability,
radicaism
and
sincerity
 
The
New
Crowd
views
wth
much
expectancy
therevolutions
ushering
in
a
New
Wrld
The
New
Crowd
is
uncompromsing
 
Its
tactics
are
not
defensive
but
offensive
 
It
would
notsend
notes
after
a
Negro
is
lynched
It
would
notappea
to
white
leaders
It
would
appea
to
the
plain
working
people
every-
where
The
New
Crowd
sees
thatthe
war
came,
thatthe
Negro
fought,bled
and
died,
and
he
is
notyet
free
 
The
New
Crowd
would
have
no
armstice
wthlynch-law
no
truce
wth
jimcrowsm
and
disfranchisement
 
no
peace
until
the
Negro
receives
his
complete
social,
eco-
FORGF
FO(f,5
TII
THF
1TMOST~FOR(
:F
OFITHOC7STNT
OR
U111 ~,v
 
f~o~~~ ivING
Tlle
p
MUN
 A
DOSE
of
rns
o\vN
MEDCINE
THE
 NEWCROWD
NEGRO
MAKNG
AMERG
SAFE
FOR
HMSELF
FFGURE
14
 The
`New
Crowd
NegroAmerica
Safe
for
Himelf
.
The
Messenger
 Sep-
tember
1919),
p
17
New
York
Public
Library,Astor,
Lenoxand
Tilden
Foundations
 
Making

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