Shadow and Act Historical Context

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Ellison's life and the two decades during which Shadow and Act was written span a pivotal period in United States history, one full of change and activity. Born only half a century after the end of the Civil War, Ellison's world was still resonating with the effects of the conflict. In the South, Jim Crow laws were in full effect, enforcing strict segregation between blacks and whites. Abolition of slavery crippled the South economically, and rampant poverty was the result. A rise in northern industry after the turn of the century followed and, consequently, so did a migration of southern blacks to northern urban centers.

The outcome of such a migration was manifold. On one hand, the 1920s marked a period of artistic experimentation during which African-American culture came into vogue. This national temperament, combined with a trend toward altruism and philanthropy on the part of many wealthy...

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This section contains 492 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Shadow and Act Study Guide
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Shadow and Act from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.