The Great Migration lead to the Harlem Renaissance which was a large production of African American literature, art, and theater in the 1920s. This movement increased competition among poor and immigrants for jobs because of the influx of poor African Americans. Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) arose to fight for African American civil rights. Anti black violence occurred in Northern cities just like in the South with groups like the KKK. One example would be the 1919 Chicago Race Riot.
After the Civil War, African Americans slowly migrated North. By 1930, almost 20% of the entire black population had moved North. Blacks moved up North because they faced less severe discrimination. Many African Americans settled in Harlem in New York City and became the largest black community. Harlem grew to a population of 200,000 and became famous for being full of talent. Many famous writers, actors, and musicians were from Harlem.
Reading was popular in the 1920s as more and more people became literate. The overly formal styles associated with Victorianism were replaced with a more direct, democratic style. Before the radio and the television, people got their facts from reading - be it magazines, newspapers, or books. In literary circles, disillusionment following World War I caused some writers to focus on the horror and futility of war. Other common themes in 1920s literature included sexuality and the human capacity to seek pleasure and happiness.
The United States got their first Nobel Prize in 1930 with the help of Sinclair Lewis and his novel Babbit. Babbit "ridiculed Americans for their conformity and materialism."
Scott Fitzgerald was basically the one who named the 1920s the "Jazz Age." A popular novel of his was The Great Gatsby. Another was This Side of Paradise. He spoke of the negative side of the period's "gaiety and freedom." He portrayed wealthy and attractive people leading "imperiled lives in gilded surroundings."
"I hope she'll be a fool — that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool . . . You see, I think everything's terrible anyhow . . . And I know. I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything." -The Great Gatsby
Art and Architecture
Art Deco style of architecture captured the modernist simplification form while using machine age materials and examples of that would be the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings in New York. Art Deco usually featured bold geometric shapes, vibrant coloring, and oversized lettering. It originated in Europe and spread to North America.
Expressionalism and Surrealism were also popular art movements that originated in Europe in the 1920s. Many artists were inspired by the architecture of American cities and how they would portray the loneliness and isolation of urban life in their works. Georgia O’Keeffe, a famous painter, began to be popular in the 1920s for her depictions of abstract nature scenes.
Photography was also emerging as a modern art form with famous photographers such as Paul Strand and Alfred Stieglitz.