Government doesn't do much for the new Americans. The assumption is that they'll take care of themselves if they work hard enough.
1900 was a bit of mixed bag, it seems to me, on the one hand, because this is the year when this country becomes the premiere producer of manufactured goods. Clearly, a lot of people were making a lot of money, but it's also a time that reflects the savaging of one of the deepest depressions.
A preoccupation with theory has been a defensive response by academic biographers in this country, I submit, to the condescension of traditional humanists and social scientists pervading higher education for many years.
Harlem was a development, a developer's dream and a place where residents had more space and more amenities than ever before. The subway reached 145th street about 1904, and it seemed that Harlem's destiny was to become largely a preserve of successful ethnics relocating and arriving. Then, overnight, the bust took place.
Harlem was an exciting place in the '50s. There were nightclubs that, as a student of Columbia, you dashed off to. The community seemed very viable still.
There was a very famous leader in Atlanta who thought that education was appropriate, but on the whole, the view was, 'If you're going to keep people down, you have to keep them ignorant. And so, nothing personal, but we just don't want to recognize the attributes that man of learning would bring. Quite threatening, those would be.'
The education business is a little murky because by 1900, it has been pretty well decided that a certain amount of education was required to make the system of repression work. You had to have people who showed up punctually. You had to have people who took their orders obediently and understand them fully.
The African Americans' story is one that seems to be a repeated commitment to a scenario for success and failure. With each failure, the blow is that much more traumatizing until finally one reaches a point where there is to some degree an internalization, skepticism, fatalism, and expectation that it isn't going to work.