AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Louis J. Parascandola, "Look For Me All Around You": Anglophone Caribbean Immigrants in the Harlem Renaissance (Wayne State UP, 2005).
Writing in The Crisis in September, 1920, W. E. B. Du Bois commented on the significance of the many Caribbean immigrants comprising what he called a "new Ethiopia of the Isles" in upper Manhattan. His remarks were occasioned by the rise of Garveyism and specifically by the enormous turnout for the first international convention of the United Negro Improvement Association, held the previous month at Madison Square Garden. Du Bois wrote,
It is this mass of peasants, uplifted by war and migration that is today beginning to assert itself at home and abroad and their new cry of "Africa for the Africans" strikes with a startling surprise upon America's darker millions. The movement is as yet inchoate and indefinite, but it is tremendously human, piteously sincere and built in the souls of hardworking, thrifty independent people who while long deprived of higher training nevertheless have among them very few illiterates or criminals. It is not beyond possibility that this new Ethiopia of the Isles may yet stretch out hands of helpfulness to the 12 million black men of America. (214)
What would result from the contact, collaboration, and community sharing of African Americans with this "mass of peasants"? Du Bois' qualified praise indicates both the anxiety many native-born Blacks felt about the cultural differences between themselves and the Caribbean immigrants as well as the promise that their presence represented for a more dynamic and robust movement on behalf of social change and racial equality. One hears a tension in Du Bois' measured hope that a mutually beneficial meeting of cultures "is not beyond possibility," a desire to reconcile the presumption of salient, observable cultural differences with the prospect of a cosmopolitan community.
During the 1920s, when Harlem witnessed …