Before the 1930s, many scholars believed that African Americans had lost their culture during the middle passage. Any distinctive customs or behaviors black folk performed were too often viewed as a bad copy of white culture. Like the boarding schools for American Indians, many Negro normal schools tried to assimilate black students in hopes that their culture too would vanish. The difference was that black American culture was rarely seen as distinctive, nor was it viewed as very exotic. Perhaps more importantly, as the threat level of American Indians waned, the threat level of African Americans waxed. It was not until the Harlem Renaissance or the New Negro movement that black culture in the United States began to be viewed widely as distinctive and authentic and worthy of scientific study.
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