To Harlem We Must GO All SO GREAT

" Poor Man's Cotton" Hall Woodruff

There's not much work here for mamma. "Sharecropping ain't easy, especially for no woman" she'd tell me. Until one day she went up to daddy, who by the way is our landowner and said she leaving. Just think having to always worry that someone might take your mamma cause she chose to fall in love with a white man.

"Reapers" Jean Toomer 1923

Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones

Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones

In their hip-pockets as a thing that’s done,

And start their silent swinging, one by one.

Black horses drive a mower through the weeds,

And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds.

His belly close to ground. I see the blade,

Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade.

"If We Must Die" by

Claude McKay

If we must die, let it not be like hogs hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, while round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, making their mock at our accursèd lot. If we must die, O let us nobly die, so that our precious blood may not be shed in vain; then even the monsters we defy shall be constrained to honor us though dead O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe! Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, and for their thousand blows deal one death-blow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

"Big Bend Tunnel" Palmer Hayden 1944

"The dress she wore was blue" Palmer Hayden 1944

Charles Alston

It was just me and mama. Daddy felt that his life was in the South. Even though I missed my father I found it exciting. Traveling by train with all these random people. Watching the old folks play cards and say how the black man never gone get his break. It was thousands of us in all these tight rooms not knowing what to expect.

Jacob Lawrence

Down here, everything was so nice. City like and all. It was a lot of black folks who was migrating as well so they were looking for a place just as we were.

Charles Alston

" Schools out" Allan Rohan 1936

Moving out here gave me new opportunities with being a little black girl. Smart in class and having white friends gave me some thing the South couldn't. Not to mention the nice clothing mamma was able to provide. My teacher Mrs. Kimberly said that Philly will open new doors for me. From the looks of it, it already is.

James VanDer Zee 1940

"Harlem Shadows"

Claude McKay

I hear the halting footsteps of a lass in Negro Harlem when the night lets fall its veil. I see the shapes of girls who pass to bend and barter at desire's call. Ah, little dark girls who in slippered feet go prowling through the night from street to street! Through the long night until the silver break of day the little gray feet know no rest; through the lone night until the last snow-flake has dropped from heaven upon the earth's white breast, the dusky, half-clad girls of tired feet are trudging, thinly shod, from street to street. Ah, stern harsh world, that in the wretched way of poverty, dishonor and disgrace, has pushed the timid little feet of clay, the sacred brown feet of my fallen race! Ah, heart of me, the weary, weary feet in Harlem wandering from street to street.

"Lady with Fur Jacket" James Van Der Zee 1935

I heard that Harlem was all of the rage now and I just had to go. Being that I was 21, I was now considered a flapper from the short skirts I was wearing and the way I rocked my fur.

James Van Der Zee

"Night Life" Archibald Motely

Coming to Harlem and watching all their wild ways gave me a new break in my life. I just love the way those jazz dancers moved.

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