The early 1900s were filled with many new social ideas and changes. New faces arose during this time, and many new ideas changed the shape of society. Among these were race relations, the role of women in society, and the ever-heated modernism versus fundamentalism debate.
Relationships between races were very sketchy during the early 1900s. Racism was still very strong in the country, and ethnic groups settled in an area and created their own little communities. Harlem, New York was a black community in the north, many of the people having settled there because the north held many economic opportunities. Yet despite racism, cultures flourished. The Harlem Renaissance, a flowering of black culture in the 1920s, is a great example. Jazz music sprung up in the 20s, which lead to the popularity of people such as Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington. The Cotton Club, located in Harlem, was a popular site to hear some of these people. White bands soon introduced a milder version of the black jazz they had picked up. Soon music and dancing that was popular amongst the blacks became popular among the white Americans. The literary movement was just as important as the music. Young writers created many novels, poems, and short stories that talked about the black experience. Among these people were Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, James Johnson, and Claude McKay, leading Harlem poets of the 20s. Yet, despite what one would think, the Harlem Renaissance depended largely on white patronage. Alienated white intellectuals and rebellious youth practically idolized Harlem's black performers, writers, and artists for their "primitive" energy and supposed sensuality. Yet, they ignored the complex social problems the ghetto had. For example, Harlem's jazz clubs actually excluded black customers. Langston Hughes's white patron would only support him if his poems evoked the "African soul", but dropped him when he began to write of black working people...
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