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Escape from New YorkThe New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem$
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Davarian L. Baldwin and Minkah Makalani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677382

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677382.001.0001

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New Negroes at the Beach: At Work and Play outsidethe Black Metropolis

New Negroes at the Beach: At Work and Play outsidethe Black Metropolis

(p.335) 14 New Negroes at the Beach: At Work and Play outsidethe Black Metropolis
Escape from New York

Andrew W. Kahrl

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines how African Americans sought to develop rural black beaches, country clubs, and leisure-based enterprises in and around the Baltimore metropolitan area from the 1920s to the period after World War II. It considers urban black Americans’ evolving relationship with American capitalism at a time when the nation’s economy was undergoing its own transformation—from one grounded in industrial production to one increasingly geared toward facilitating and servicing pleasure and consumption. It looks at the experiences of numbers runners, black market entrepreneurs, and real estate magnates Austine Scarlett and William L. Adams to highlight the rise of a ruthless culture of acquisitive capitalism forged on the streets of the black metropolis and conducted via informal economies that operated on the margins of the law and “respectable,” middle-class black society. By investigating the origins of the enterprises and institutions that nourished the emergence of a postwar black middle class, this chapter illustrates how the New Negro of the 1920s and 1930s laid the groundwork and provided the institutional foundations for a more consumption-oriented and “moderate” black politics in the postwar era.

Keywords:   capitalism, African Americans, leisure-based enterprises, Baltimore, Austine Scarlett, William L. Adams, black metropolis, New Negro, black politics

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