Panel # 1
The Migration Series
In 1941, Jacob Lawrence, then just twenty-three years old, completed a series of sixty paintings about the Great Migration, the mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North. Lawrence’s work is a landmark in the history of modern art and a key example of the way that history painting was radically reimagined in the modern era. Explore the social and cultural nuances of each of the sixty panels in Lawrence’s series here. panel #1 Lawrence opens his sixty-panel series with this image of a chaotic crowd in a train station pushing toward three ticket windows marked CHICAGO, NEW YORK, and ST. LOUIS. Images of train stations, railroad cars, waiting rooms, and passengers weighed down by bags recur throughout the Migration Series; . Each of this trio of cities is the subject of a chapter of Emmett J. Scott’s Negro Migration during the War (1920), one of the first scholarly efforts to come to grips with the huge demographic shifts spurred by the Great Migration. “They left as if they were fleeing some curse,” he writes. Negro Migration during the War was one of the pivotal books that Lawrence read in his extensive preparatory research for his series at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem.
Latest news : Le Musee du Quai Branly à Paris organise une exposition qui rend hommage aux artistes noirs americains. Expo The Color Line au Quai Branly
The expression “the color line” refers concretely to the discrimination that divided Blacks and Whites in the United States and which appeared at the end of the Civil War in 1865. The Civil War may have abolished slavery in America but this racial “line” continued to have a profound impact on society.
Three Constitutional amendments were passed to accord African Americans legal status: the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) abolished slavery, the Fourteenth (1868) provided citizenship, and the Fifteenth (1870) guaranteed the right to vote.
In spite of these amendments, between 1873 and 1883 the Supreme Court passed a series of decisions that virtually nullified these texts.
Regarded by many as second-class citizens, Blacks were separated from Whites by law and by private action in transportation, public accommodations, recreational facilities, prisons, armed forces, and schools in both Northern and Southern states.
Aaron Douglas, Into Bondage, 1936
Affirmation of Black Identity
The exhibition “The Color Line” looks back on this dark period in the United States through the cultural history of its black artists, the prime target of this discrimination.
The exhibition takes viewers through the civil rights movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and introduces the new millennium with contemporary art work.
About the exhibition :The exhibition pays tribute to the African-American artists and thinkers who contributed, during a century and a half-long struggle, to blurring this discriminatory « colour line ».
The Poetry of Langston Hughes
A central figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s and 40s, Missouri-born Langston Hughes used his poetry, novels, plays, and essays to voice his concerns about race and social justice.
One Way Ticket
I pick up my life, And take it with me,
And I put it down in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Scranton,
Any place that is North and East, And not Dixie.
I pick up my life And take it on the train,
To Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake
Any place that is North and West, And not South.
I am fed up With Jim Crow laws,
People who are cruel And afraid, Who lynch and run,
Who are scared of me And me of them
I pick up my life And take it away On a one-way ticket
Gone up North Gone out West Gone!
POWER AND SEATS OF POWER –
What role did art play in the quest for equality and the affirmation of black identity in segregated America? (see post on Harlem Renaissance)
The role of these artists was essentially to construct an image of the black person that was different from the one transmitted by racist images, by stereotypes.
These documents (paintings, photos, texts, films) present the struggle of African-Americans for the effective recognition of their rights: . During all these years, artists never stopped pinpointing inequalities, injustices and racism through their art.
As a result of housing tensions, many blacks ended up creating their own cities within big cities, fostering the growth of a new urban African-American culture. The most prominent example was Harlem in New York City, a formerly all-white neighborhood that by the 1920s housed some 200,000 African Americans. The black experience during the Great Migration became an important theme in the artistic movement known first as the New Negro Movement and later as the Harlem Renaissance, which would have an enormous impact on the culture of the era. The Great Migration also began a new era of increasing political activism among African Americans, who after being disenfranchised in the South found a new place for themselves in public life in the cities of the North and West.
Black migration slowed considerably in the 1930s, when the country sank into the Great Depression, but picked up again with the coming of World War II. By 1970, when the Great Migration ended, its demographic impact was unmistakable: Whereas in 1900, nine out of every 10 black Americans lived in the South, and three out of every four lived on farms, by 1970 the South was home to less than half of the country’s African-Americans, with only 25 percent living in the region’s rural areas.