The Harlem Riot in Harlem Runs Wild by Claude McKay Essay

478 Words 2 Pages
The Harlem Riot in Harlem Runs Wild by Claude McKay

In Harlem Runs Wild, Claude McKay depicts the Harlem Riot of 1935 as merely "…a gesture of despair of a bewildered, baffled, and disillusioned people." (McKay 224) The Harlem Riot of 1935 was spontaneous and unpremeditated. It was not a race riot in the sense of physical conflict between white and non-white groups as there was little direct violence to white persons. McKay states, "The mass riot in Harlem was not a race riot." (McKay 221) Its distinguishing feature was the persons' attack upon property rather than persons, and resentment against whites that, while exploiting Negroes, denied them an opportunity to work. Communists did not instigate the riot, though they
…show more content…
Housing was the most serious community problem in Harlem. The Negro's labor dollar was further taken by the steep rental characteristic of the segregated areas where most Negroes lived. Ellison makes this quite clear to the audience as Scofield and Dupre steal coal oil and buckets from the hardware store and set them on fire in the apartment building where they live. They make sure to get everyone to safety before they burn the building down, shouting, "You didn't think I'd do it but there it is. You wouldn't fix it up. Now see how you like it." (Ellison 548). African American's were also treated unfairly in their living quarters. There are more examples of this mistreatment in the book when The Invisible Man awakens to the sound of tenants beating on the pipes, due to no heat, at Mary's apartment building and also the eviction of the elderly couple, the Provo's. McKay describes one of the agitators of the Harlem riots, Sufi Hamid and the organization, the Negro Industrial and Clerical Alliance. This organization began the fight for African Americans rights to jobs on 125th street by picketing the merchants. After many influential persons joined the picket lines
Open Document