Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

New Negro Movements

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
New Negro Movements

African Americans wanted to celebrate their achievements, culture, and arts in a way that expressed their experiences. Artists, poets, scholars, and musicians all took part in the movement by telling their stories through the arts. What is a New Negro? What was the goal of this movement? Let's explore those questions and more!

New Negro Movement's Timeline

To understand the New Negro Movement, we need to go all the way back to Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. These men were both great scholars but had different ideas about the progression of Black people. Washington believed that black people should remain out of politics and focus on economic advancement by training African Americans in trade skills. W. E. B. Du Bois believed that African Americans would progress by gaining political rights.

In the South, African Americans were affected by Jim Crow laws and could not vote. As time progressed, Washington's ideology became less popular as Black people turned to leaders like W. E. B. Du Bois. African American soldiers who fought in World War I returned to America from Europe only to be treated as second-class citizens.

Jim Crow Laws and Voting Rights

Jim Crow Laws were government-enforced segregation. Segregation was the separation of people based on race. While the South had Jim Crow laws, the North still participated in segregation. In 1870, the 15th Amendment gave Black people voting rights, but Southern counties found ways to keep African Americans from voting. Literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and poll taxes were the main methods of removing the African American voting right.

The poor treatment of African Americans in the South led to the Great Migration where many Black people left their homes in the South to move to cities in the North. In the North, African Americans had better access to schools and lived in safer environments. Racist, Northern white people wanted to keep African Americans separate from themselves so Black people had to live in specific communities, one of the most remembered was Harlem.

New Negro Movement and Harlem Renaissance

The New Negro Movement and the Harlem Renaissance go hand in hand. The names tend to be used interchangeably for the same event. This movement focused on artists, musicians, authors, and scholars. The goal was to show the potential that African Americans had by highlighting their creations.

The New Negro was popularized and defined by Alaine Leroy Locke. Locke was a scholar who edited a book called The New Negro. This book showcased some of the bright and promising young, Black poets and artists of the 1920s. The book also included white poets and artists as a way to desegregate the arts.

The New Negro Movement New Negro Book Art StudySmarterArt from the New Negro. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the foreword of The New Negro Alaine Leroy Locke defines the New Negro in relation to the Old Negro. The Old Negro lived during slavery and was still afraid of white people ridiculing them while the New Negro did not live during slavery, so they did not have the burden of fearing white criticism. The Old Negro had a philosophy similar to Booker T. Washington while the New Negro sought to change the public perception of the Black community by creating art, literature, and music that painted African Americans in a better light. The New Negro was closer to the ideology of W. E. B. Du Bois.

New Negro Movement of the 1920s and 1930s

Let's look at some artists, musicians, and poets who rose to fame during the New Negro Movement of the 1920s. By showcasing their art, these creators exemplified black pride. Many drew inspiration from African culture and depicted African Americans' lives dealing with segregation and the weight of enslavement.

New Negro Movements Art

Two of the best-known artists of the New Negro Movement were Aaron Douglas and James Van Der Zee. Aaron Douglas was a painter who drew inspiration from Egypt. His art reclaimed Egypt as an inspiration for Black people from white people who appropriated its culture. Aaron Douglas used color and shapes to tell stories with his art of African Americans living their lives and dealing with oppression. He also depicted Africans being kidnapped and forced into slavery.

New Negro Movement Aaron Douglas Aspiration StudySmarterAaron Douglas "Aspiration". Source: Wikiart.

James Van Der Zee was a photographer who took photos of African Americans in fine clothing. His goal was to change the perception of African Americans by photographing them looking regal. Van Der Zee's photos still inspire people today.

New Negro Movement Literature

Zora Neale Hurston and Claude McKay were both incredibly influential and talented writers. Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God. This book followed a young African American woman as she escapes two different marriages. Her first husband was abusive and her second was overly controlling. The book handles themes of oppression through gender and race.

Claude McKay was less hopeful and wistful than his counterparts. In his poems "If We Must Die" and "The White House", McKay explores the oppression and resilience that African American people have to have to survive.

Oh, I must search for wisdom every hour,Deep in my wrathful bosom sore and raw,And find in it the superhuman powerTo hold me to the letter of your law!Oh, I must keep my heart inviolateAgainst the potent poison of your hate.

-Claude McKay "The White House

New Negro Movement in Music

Music is another way that African American people conveyed their want for change. While leaders of the New Negro Movement might not have considered Jazz to be a part of their movement, history proved them wrong. Jazz musicians combined spirituals with modern music to create something new. Some Jazz musicians in Harlem played for an audience of black and white people!

Duke Ellington was one of the most popular jazz musicians. He won Grammys, presidential awards, and even a Pulitzer! Ellington set out to capture the mood of African American people. Some of his most popular songs are Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got Swing and Solitude. Many of Ellington's songs were about recapturing lost or fading memories.

New Negro Movement Duke Ellington StudySmarterDuke Ellington. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

William Grant Still was a jazz composer who set out to make African American music that was different from white music. Still's symphonies like Afro-American Symphony and Symphony in G Minor have themes of replacing the "Old Negro" with the New.

New Negro Movement Definition

The New Negro Movement sought to overcome negative stereotypes by showing Black excellence through philosophy, art, literature, and music. The philosophies of African American creators were given through stories, essays, music, and art. Many of these talented individuals covered themes of oppression, resilience, Black excellence, and Black pride.

The New Negro Movement was able to reach people around the world. Many Jazz musicians played in Europe while the authors studied overseas. It was a time of achievement for the Black community and although the movement died down, those behind it left a legacy that is still remembered today.

New Negro Movements - Key takeaways

  • The New Negro Movement began with Alaine Leroy Locke
  • This movement was about replacing negative stereotypes in the Black community by excelling in the humanities
  • The "New Negro" was ambitious and unafraid of white criticism

Frequently Asked Questions about New Negro Movements

The New Negro Movement encouraged artists to create art that was true to their experience, showed their culture, and took pride in who they were. 

The New Negro Movement was about celebrating black pride, showcasing black talent, and raising awareness about black struggles through the arts and humanities. 

The New Negro Movement began in the 1920s.

The New Negro Movement was started by Alain Leroy Locke.

The characteristics of the New Negro include: ambition, creativity, and assertiveness, to name a few.

Final New Negro Movements Quiz

Question

What is Alain Locke's most important book?

Show answer

Answer

The New Negro

Show question

Question

What award allowed Locke to go to Oxford?

Show answer

Answer

Rhodes Scholar Award

Show question

Question

Why did Locke have issues getting into an Oxford college?

Show answer

Answer

They would not allow him in because of his race.

Show question

Question

At Howard University Locke taught English, Teacher Education, and ____.

Show answer

Answer

Philosophy 

Show question

Question

What was a cultural movement that focused on creating art, works of literature, and scholarly studies in the black community? 

Show answer

Answer

Harlem Renaissance 

Show question

Question

What earned Locke the title, "Father of the Harlem Renaissance"?

Show answer

Answer

The New Negro

Show question

Question

What was Locke's last book that he didn't finish?

Show answer

Answer

The Negro in American Culture 

Show question

Question

What is a dislike for someone based on ideas that were already had?

Show answer

Answer

Prejudice

Show question

Question

What is an image of someone where their features are made to look silly in order to bully them and people who may look like them?

Show answer

Answer

Caricature 

Show question

Question

Locke thought that if African Americans created ____ they would be treated fairly.

Show answer

Answer

Art

Show question

Question

Where did Locke receive his doctorate?

Show answer

Answer

Harvard

Show question

Question

Why was Locke fired from Howard Univeristy?

Show answer

Answer

He wanted equal pay for black and white people.

Show question

Question

Why did Locke return to Howard University?

Show answer

Answer

The university hired its first African American professor.

Show question

Question

What did Locke want America and the rest of the world to do with black culture?

Show answer

Answer

Appreciate it

Show question

Question

Which of the following was not featured in The New Negro?

Show answer

Answer

Jazz Lyrics

Show question

Question

What were segregation laws called in the South?

Show answer

Answer

Jim Crow Laws

Show question

Question

________ was when African Americans moved to Northern cities after World War I.

Show answer

Answer

The Great Migration

Show question

Question

Which African American painter pulled inspiration from Egypt and depicted the lives of African Americans?

Show answer

Answer

Aaron Douglas

Show question

Question

Which African American photographer took photos of African Americans in splendid clothing? 

Show answer

Answer

James Van Der Zee

Show question

Question

Who wrote Their Eyes Were on God?

Show answer

Answer

Zora Neale Hurston

Show question

Question

Who wrote The Whitehouse?

Show answer

Answer

Claude McKay

Show question

Question

Which Jazz musician wanted to capture the mood of the black community and lost memories?

Show answer

Answer

Duke Ellington

Show question

Question

Who wrote Afro-American Symphony?

Show answer

Answer

William Grant Still

Show question

Question

Which of these is not a way that people contributed to the New Negro Movement?

Show answer

Answer

Art

Show question

Question

True/False

Aaron Douglass was inspired by Egyptian art.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the New Negro Movements quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.