The Jazz Age: Rise in Popularity of the African American and Their Culture

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The Jazz Age could be defined at the rise in popularity of the African American and their culture. Jazz became the new musical sensation; people flocked to Harlem in New York City to listen to the new music along with the dance and theater. Following World War I, African Americans migrated north and a majority of them settled in Harlem. The war had stopped the incoming of cheap immigrant workers so the black man could find work in the city. Negros had a heavy influence on the entertainment in Harlem which brought the white man to Harlem to enjoy the jazz, nightclubs and theaters. The Jazz and Harlem Renaissance not only influenced the local entertainment; it influenced local poets and story tellers and not always in a positive manner. From James Weldon Johnson to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the American Africans were influenced in their writing by the roaring 20s in the city named after the City of Haarlem in The Netherlands.

In James Weldon Johnson essay “Negro Dialect”, Johnson worries about the Negro losing a part of their history by changing the way the Negro culture communicates. Johnson is concerned with the dialect coming out Harlem. According to Johnson, a Negro in Harlem does not speak in the same eloquent Negro dialect of a slave in the cotton field. “Take, for example, the phases rising out of life in Harlem,…I do not deny that a Negro in a log cabin is more picturesque than a negro in a Harlem flat is here…a group [Harlem Negros] whose ideals are becoming increasingly more vital than those of the traditionally artistic group, even its members are less picturesque” (Johnson 213) He suggests Negros in Harlem must find a way to evolve their dialect while keeping the dialect unique to the Black people. He even suggests that the loss of Negro dialect will be missed by the white man. The song “St. James Infirmary Blues” had many different versions throughout the twenty first century America. Gladys Bentley’s version had a strong bluesy Harlem influence. She...
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