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Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” PowerPoint Presentation
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Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask”

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask”

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Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask”

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  1. Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” We wear the mask that grins and lies,It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--This debt we pay to human guile;With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,And mouth with myriad subtleties.Why should the world be overwise,In counting all our tears and sighs?Nay, let them only see us, while          We wear the mask.We smile, but, O great Christ, our criesTo thee from tortured souls arise.We sing, but oh the clay is vileBeneath our feet, and long the mile;But let the world dream otherwise,          We wear the mask! Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. Born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of ex-slaves and classmate to Orville Wright of aviation fame.

  2. The Harlem Renaissance 1920s Flourishing of the arts Harlem was the site where the modern Black identity was born

  3. During the 1910s, a new political agenda advocating racial equality arose in the African-American community, particularly in its growing middle class. Championing the agenda were black historian and sociologist W.E.B. DuBois and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was founded in 1909 to advance the rights of blacks.

  4. This agenda was also reflected in the efforts of Jamaican-born black nationalist Marcus Garvey, whose Back to Africa movement inspired racial pride among working-class blacks in the United States in the 1920s.

  5. "Negro life is seizing upon its first chances for group expression and self-determination." • —Alain Locke, in The New Negro (1925) • "Harlem is indeed the great Mecca for the sight-seer; the pleasure seeker, the curious, the adventurous, the enterprising, the ambitious and the talented of the whole Negro world." • —James Weldon Johnson, in Survey Graphic (1925) • "One ever feels his two-ness - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled stirrings: two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder." • —W.E.B. DuBois, in The Souls of Black Folks (1903) • "The Complex of color...every colored man feels it sooner or later. It gets in the way of his dreams, of his education, of his marriage, of the rearing of his children." • —Jessie Redmon Fauset, There is Confusion (1924)

  6. What was The Harlem Renaissance? • "From 1920 until about 1930 an unprecedented outburst of creative activity among African-Americans occurred in all fields of art. Beginning as a series of literary discussions in the lower Manhattan (Greenwich Village) and upper Manhattan (Harlem) sections of New York City, this African-American cultural movement became known as "The New Negro Movement" and later as the Harlem Renaissance. More than a literary movement and more than a social revolt against racism, the Harlem Renaissance exalted the unique culture of African-Americans and redefined African-American expression. African-Americans were encouraged to celebrate their heritage and to become "The New Negro," a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke.

  7. Alain Leroy LockePhilosopher, Author, Educator, and Cultural Arbiter of Harlem Renaissance

  8. The Harlem Renaissance transformed African-American identity and history, but it also transformed American culture in general. Never before had so many Americans read the thoughts of African-Americans and embraced the African-American community's productions, expressions, and style. Even though the Harlem Renaissance only lasted about a decade most of its writings, art and music are still read, looked at and listened to today.

  9. The progress—both symbolic and real—during this period, became a point of reference from which the African-American community gained a spirit of self-determination that provided a growing sense of both Black urbanity and Black militancy as well as a foundation for the community to build upon for the Civil Rights struggles in the 1950s and 1960s.

  10. Why did the Harlem Renaissance happen in the 1920s? • 1. Exodus North: 1st wave of the Great Migration 1900-1920 (over 1 million African-Americans moved out of the south --b/w wars over 2 mil) • 2. Impact of the First World War: over 380,000 Blacks fought in WWI;200,000 in Europe • 3. A new sense of racial pride • 4. Need to prove the Black contribution to American culture

  11. Political Changes • Number of members in protest organizations increased • 1909 NAACP founded: The Crisis Magazine • 1910 The Urban League founded: Opportunity Magazine • 1914, 1917 in Harlem: UNIA-Universal Negro Improvement Association; Marcus Garvey-Black Nationalist [Martin Delaney in 19th century, T. 126]

  12. 1919 • “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Pres. Wilson about US entry into WWI, 1917 • 369th Infantry regiment of Black soldiers returns from France • Parade up Fifth Ave of “Harlem Hellfighters” • • Immediately after WWI unprecedented surge of racial violence

  13. 1919 • U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer launches "Red Scare" by creating a special division of the Justice Department, headed by J. Edgar Hoover, to combat and spy on Blacks and radicals, including Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), a militant organization founded in Jamaica in 1914 & launched in Harlem in 1917, whose aims including repatriating African Americans.

  14. 1919 • 83 documented lynchings in 1919 • 14 Black soldiers were killed by public burnings; 11 while still in uniform • RED SUMMER of 1919: 25 race riots occur between the summer and the end of 1919 as Whites & Blacks compete for postwar employment. The worst incidents occur in Charleston, SC; Longview, TX; Washington, DC; Omaha, NE & Chicago. •

  15. SOUTHERN LYNCHINGSBetween 1882 and 1951 there were a reported 4,730 incidents of vigilante justice in the form of lynchings. 2,806 (59.3%) of these occurred in the following 10 southern states. The racial breakdown of these victims is White 289 (10.3%), Black 2,462 (87.7%), Unknown 50 (1.8%) and Other 5 (0.2%).

  16. Strange Fruit by Abel Meeropol, 1939 sung by Billie Holiday Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the Southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, And the sudden smell of burning flesh! Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop, Here is a strange and bitter crop.

  17. Pearl Primus: 1919-1994 Primus was equally celebrated for her depiction of American life and of the injustices inflicted on black Americans, particularly in the American South. In one of her best-known dances, "Strange Fruit," a woman reacts in horror to a lynching. "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" -- created, like "Strange Fruit," in 1943 and inspired by the Langston Hughes poem -- depicted the Mississippi and the hard lives of blacks along its shores. "Dance has been my freedom and my world," she said in 1991. "I dance not to entertain but to help people better understand each other."

  18. Alison Saar . Strange Fruit , 1995 . Rusted tin roofing, wood, dirt, found objects, and rope . 76 x 21 x 14 in. The Baltimore Museum of ArtLynchings, the illegal execution of an accused person by a mob, carried out in a carnival-like atmosphere with victims left hanging for all to see, were rampant in the South during reconstruction and beyond. Between 1880 and 1920, it's estimated that on average two African Americans a week were lynched in the United States. The work entiteled Strange Fruit is by Alison Saar, an American artist from California, and is a sculpture of the figure of a black man hanging by a foot, upside down and bound. The figure itself is an amazing texture that seems to be formed from rusty tin ceiling tiles and also contains other bits of rusty hardware. This piece of powerful sculpture is a commentary on lynching, racism, and violence and also addresses issues of our interaction with atrocities against humanity. We are able to walk around this life-size sculpture and we want to free this bound figure, yet the exquisite texture and the theme of the work are arresting.

  19. Jacob Lawrence. The Migration of the Negro Series, 1940-41. "No. 15: Another cause was lynching, the people who were reluctant to leave at first left immediately after this." Tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18.

  20. 1919 • W.E.B. DuBois organizes the Pan-African Congress in Paris to lobby a/g the colonization of Africa. • Claude McKay, a Jamaican émigré living in Harlem, publishes a poem, "If We Must Die," in The Liberator, a leftist journal.

  21. In 1919 there was a wave of race riots consisting mainly of white assaults on black neighborhoods in a dozen American cities. Jamaican-born writer Claude McKay responded by writing this sonnet, urging his comrades to fight back. It had a powerful impact, then and later. For what reason does McKay say even a doomed resistance is worth while? If we must die, let it not be like hogsHunted and penned in an inglorious spot,While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,Making their mock at our accursed lot.If we must die, O let us nobly die,So that our precious blood may not be shedIn vain; then even the monsters we defyShall be constrained to honor us though dead!O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!What though before us lies the open grave?Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

  22. Political Changes: The NAACP, founded in 1909, holds a conference on lynching after repeated incidents of lynchings of Blacks occur in 1918 & 1919 & the government fails to stop the violence. After the conference the NAACP published Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1918.

  23. Points of Significance of the Harlem Renaissance • It became a symbol and a point of reference for everyone to recall. • The name, more than the place, became synonymous with new vitality, Black urbanity,and Black militancy. • It became a racial focal point for Blacks the world over; it remained for a time a race capital. • It stood for urban pluralism; Alain Locke wrote: "The peasant, the student, the businessman, the professional man, artist, poet, musician, adventurer and worker, preacher, and criminal, exploiter and social outcast, each group has come with its own special motives... but their greatest experience has been the finding of one another." • The complexity of the urban setting was important for Blacks to truly appreciate the variety of Black life. The race consciousness required that shared experience.

  24. JAMES VAN DER ZEE. Future Expectations. c. 1915. Gelatin silver print. James Van Der Zee Estate, New York.