Deep Like the Rivers
Last updated: November 4, 2019
From the 1910s onwards, in response to the Jim Crow regime in the Southern States, African Americans began to move north in increasing numbers, and the first wave of this Great Migration saw people leaving the fields of the Mississippi Delta for the industrial cities of the Midwest and along the East Coast. One result of this flow of people and talent was the cultural explosion that came to be known as the Harlem Renaissance. Following the end of the Second World War, a second American internal migration headed west to work in the new automobile and aerospace industries, to Seattle, Portland, Oakland, and above all, to Los Angeles. As that city’s black population grew, so did a distinct black culture in Southern California, making distinctive and long lasting contributions to new forms of music, dance, and the visual arts; in effect, a second, and perhaps more political, Renaissance. The poet Langston Hughes, one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance and a sometime resident of Los Angeles, wrote The Negro Speaks of Rivers in 1920.
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