African Americans had no economic opportunities in the South due to black codes and the boll weevil epidemic in 1898 across the South causing massive crop damage. More than six million relocated themselves to Northern cities escaping from harsh segregationist laws. During WW1, the North was in need of workers so African Americans saw this as an opportunity to earn more money. By 1920, 1 million blacks left the South and found jobs in factories while facing less discrimination as segregation wasn't legalized. However due to white property owners sometimes not selling to blacks, they decided to create their own city within a city with less tension, Harlem. Harlem became a safe haven to 200,000 African Americans. It meant the start of desegregation mentally as black culture started to have an impact on whites.
The developers that built hundreds of tenement apartments overestimated the quantity of people that would occupy them in Harlem. Due to the IRT subway completion of 1904, Washington Heights, the Bronx, Harlem, and other northern points were reachable to those from downtown. This left many tenements unsold but Phillip Payton, a real estate agent and entrepreneur convinced Harlem landlords that he'd occupy them with black families. Due to the great migration, many black families moved to the North from the South and found themselves in these welcoming homes. Phillip Payton not only found a solution for making the tenements useful but also created a safer environment for African Americans to stay in. This meant the start of cross-culture as blacks and whites were living in the same neighborhood and a widespread of their culture.
Although the literary movement (Civic Club Dinner) did not occur in Harlem, it´s a stepping stone for importance of African American writers because it was one hundred blocks south in Manhattan at the Civic Club. Charles S. Johnson, editor of National Urban League's monthly magazine lead this event full of a small crowd of black and white writers. When he asked Alain Locke to lead the event, Locke only agreed if the dinner honored African American writers rather than just one. This lead to over a hundred attendees and many representatives for African Americans including W. E. B. Du Bois. Paul Kellog editor of a popular publication stand, offered Johnson an opportunity of publishing about the Harlem Literary movement. This was the start of gaining a large audience to read and embrace African American literature and their impact. Harlem became a comfortable place for African Americans as everyone started to embrace their works. Harlem, a place where African Americans were able to show pride for their works to the world.
The blues age diminished and changed the meaning of race records as it was predominately for African Americans. However due to OKeh’s recording of Mamie Smith’s “Crazy Blues” in 1920, audiences unfamiliar with this music were starting to assimilate and slowly accepted it into the age of jazz. Jazz was spreading into Northern areas as blacks from the great migration were coming in huge numbers. During and after WW1 jazz orchestras grew in size and became a pure distraction from the outside world of tension. Louis Armstrong became the first great jazz soloist joining bands and spreading jazz from Chicago to New York. Jazz became such a huge impact on whites to the point "white bands" such as Paul Whiteman’s was formed as well as tap dancing to engage in the music. Because of Carl Van Vechten a white music critic, black artists were gaining recognition from his publishing connections. Jazz is the important factor in connecting mixed audiences in nightclubs such as the Cotton Club. Due to this, the spread of black culture that first came from jazz brought interracial peace in entertainment and neighborhoods of Harlem. Harlem was a place where black pride existed and never have blacks felt a place more welcoming of their own culture without having to assimilate to white culture.
Plays about black life and experience from white authors gained great success while inspiring black playwrights to write more. Alain Locke believed that the plays should focus on folk play, meaning that captures the soul rather than negative aspects of black inequality. Richardson a creative playwright was inspired by this idea while inputting encouraging and educational messages in them. Georgia Douglas Johnson used drama to protest racial oppression such as lynching as well as Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston instead used rural Southern folklore with humor to bring upon the stereotypes and eventually her short plays made Broadway. Folk drama became successful in educating audiences while revealing black experience. Folk drama brought change and issues to black and white audiences in a peaceful way. African Americans from the South can now address their experiences and make it known through the area. Harlem became home to them as they now have a voice.