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African-American History

               African-American History Film Clips

Ralph Ellison on Richard Wright Among Others... (Direction Magazine, 1941)

Printed just twelve years before he would receive a National Book Award for his tour de force, The Invisible Man, celebrated wordsmith Ralph Ellison (1914 1994) wrote this review of "Negro fiction" for a short-lived but informed arts magazine in which he rolled out some deep thoughts regarding Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Zora Neil Hurston and assorted other ink-slingers of African descent:

"It is no accident that the two most advanced Negro writers, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, have been men who have enjoyed freedom of association with advanced white writers; nor is it accidental that they have had the greatest effect upon Negro life."

Click here to read a 1929 book review by Langston Hughes.

CLICK HERE to read about African-Americans during the Great Depression.


Just Another Classified Ad from Dixie... (The Nation, 1927)

The attached file is a digital facsimile of a classified ad that was once posted in a Georgia newspaper long after the Emancipation Proclamation was passed into law. The editors at THE NATION saw fit to title the notice as an "interesting little advertisement" when they reproduced it six months later on their pages. Yet, for the Southerners who set the type-face, applied the ink, delivered the paper and subscribed, the ad was typical of so many other classifieds that had appeared during the past one hundred and fifty years, and it was not, as the Yankees put it:

"...the request of someone who never heard of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States."


Agent is Held for Enticing Negroes (The Atlanta Georgian, 1917)

One of the seldom remembered casualties in the Northern migration history was the prosecution of those Whites who both encouraged and provided monetary favors to the African-American families seeking a better life in the North.

To learn how many African-Americans served in the W.W. I American Army, click here.


Negroes Still Departing (The Atlanta Georgian, 1917)

This short notice from a 1917 Georgia newspaper documented the heavy numbers involved in what has come to be known as the 'Great migration' as more and more African-Americans abandoned their homes in the Southern states preferring life in the North. It is believed that between the years 1910 through 1940, some 1.6 million African Americans participated in this exodus. The Southern journalist who penned these three paragraphs clearly felt a sense of personal rejection:

"The worthless ones are remaining here to be cared for... The departure of these Negroes is not spasmodic. It is a steady drain of the best class of laborers that the South now has. Just what remedy is to prevent it we do not know."


The State of African-Americans in 1929 (The Book League, 1929)

This book review of Scott Nearing's Black America was published on the eve of the Great Depression and it provides a very accurate account of that community.

"There are in the United States today, if statistics do not lie, some twelve million Negroes. The population of the Argentine is not so large, nor that of Holland, nor that of Sweden. Eight million of these dark Americans live in the South. In Georgia alone there are more than a million colored people...How do they live - these blacks in a country controlled by whites.
Author Scott Nearing (1883 1983) was an American naturalist, educator and civil rights advocate.

Click here to read an article by Ralph Ellison concerning Black writers of the 1930s.


Racial Segregation in Truxton, Virginia (Popular Mechanics, 1919)

A small notice appeared in POPULAR MECHANICS MAGAZINE that announced African Americans "will be allowed" to live in a new town located in Virginia intended to house the employees of the naval station in nearby Portsmouth. Due to small reports as this, Truxton proved to be a destination during the African-American migration period.


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