The Harlem Renaissance. Harlem is vicious Modernism. BangClash . Vicious the way it's made, Can you stand such beauty. So violent and transforming. - Amiri Baraka ( LeRoi Jones) .
Harlem is viciousModernism. BangClash.Vicious the way it's made,Can you stand such beauty.So violent and transforming.
- Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
Cullen was the leading writer of the Harlem Renaissance. A dedicated craftsman, Cullen was criticized for being conventional, for using the British romantic poets as his models, and for insisting that poetry in general should be free of racial and political matters. But in his finest poem, "Heritage," he demonstrates a clear relationship to Africa.
Primary Works: Color, 1925; Copper Sun, 1927; The Ballad of the Brown Girl, 1927; The Black Christ, 1929.
Described variously as the "most outspoken civil rights activist in America," "the undisputed intellectual leader of a new generation of African- American, and "the central authorizing figure for twentieth-century African-American thought." As a co-founder of the NAACP and the long-time editor of its magazine The Crisis, Du Bois nurtured and promoted many young and talented African-Americans. Underlying his controversial notion of "the talented tenth," was his belief that true integration will happen when selected blacks excel in the literature and the fine arts.
Primary Works : The Souls of Black Folk, 1903; Darkwater, 1920; The Gift ofthe Negro, 1924; Dark Princess: Voices from within the Veil, 1928.
Named one of the “midwives” of the Harlem Renaissance by poet Langston Hughes, Jessie Fauset began her life outside of Harlem in small, suburban middle-class community near New Jersey. An editor, poet, essayist and novelist. She was the most prolific African American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance.
Primary Works: There is Confusion, 1924; Plum Bun, 1928; The Chinaberry Tree; 1931; Comedy, American Style, 1933.
An American novelist, essayist, critic, dramatist, conversationalist, music arranger, short story writer, civic leader and volunteer Rudolph Fisher. Amazing accomplishments for a man who only wrote part-time, while maintaining his job as a doctor of roentgenology (the diagnostic and therapeutic uses of x-rays). By many accounts, Fisher may be the most gifted member of the Harlem Renaissance.
Primary Works: The Walls of Jericho, 1928; The Conjure Man Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem, 1932.
Marcus Garvey was a publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, Black nationalist, orator, and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement focusing on Africa known as Garveyism. Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, ranging from the Nation of Islam, to the Rastafari movement.
Primary Works: Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, and Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey: Or Africa for the Africans; The Tragedy of White Injustice and Selections from the Poetic Meditations of Marcus Garvey.
Hughes was the first African American author to support himself through his writing; he produced more than sixty books. He earned critical attention for his portrayal of realistic black characters and he became one of the dominant voices speaking out on issues concerning black culture. He wrote in many genres; starting and continuing with poetry, he turned to fiction, autobiographies, and children's books.
Primary Works: The Weary Blues, 1926; Fine Cloths to the Jew, 1927; Four Negro Poets, 1927; The Ways of White Folks, 1934; The Big Sea, 1940.
Larsen's importance as a writer is based upon her two novels; she was unable to complete a third one. She spent her last thirty years as a supervising nurse at a Brooklyn hospital. Both Quicksand and Passing are admired for their use of irony and symbolism dealing in themes of identity, passing, marginality, race consciousness, sexuality, and class distinction. Larsen became the first black woman to receive a Guggenheim fellowship for creative writing. Her novels place her as one of the best fiction writers of the 1920s.
Primary Works: Quicksand, 1928; Passing, 1929; "Sanctuary,” 1930.
With the publication of The New Negro, Locke became the leading theoretician and strategist of the New Negro Movement. Due to the publication of this anthology, critics were forced to take black writing seriously, and it served to unite struggling black authors of that period. Locke was a self-confessed "philosophical midwife" to a generation of black artists and writers. Locke was also a leading figure in the adult education movement of the 1930s.
Primary Works: The Problem of Classification in Theory Value, 1918; The New Negro: An Interpretation, 1925; The Negro in America, 1933; Negro and His Music [and]Negro Art: Past and Present, 1936.
A Jamaica-born writer and poet, McKay evinced an interest in communism in his early life, but after a visit to Russia, he decided that communism was too disciplined and confining. McKay’s work demonstrates a particular concern with the issues of class and of sexuality. McKay’s poetic call-to-arms, “If We Must Die,” is often viewed as an inaugural address of the Harlem Renaissance.
Primary Works: Songs of Jamaica, 1911; Harlem Shadows, 1922; Home to Harlem, 1927; Banjo, 1929; Banana Bottom, 1933; Harlem: Negro Metropolis, 1940.
For many, the literary renaissance in Harlem began in 1923 with the publication of Toomer'sCane. It was hailed as a masterpiece, as a fresh voice from a very promising young writer. This publication also brought Toomer in contact with other black intellectuals. However, his spiritual quest took him away from race issues; he studied and converted to the spiritual thought of the Russian mystic GeorgiGurdjieff and spent his time lecturing on mystical doctrines. His racial ambivalence and involvement with mysticism are often understood as factors in his inability to recapture the promise of Cane.
Primary Works: Cane, 1923; Essentials, 1931.
Vechten was writer and photographer who was also a patron of the Harlem Renaissance. He authored a work of fiction born out of his experiences in Harlem entitled Nigger Heaven. As the title might suggest, the book had a complicated reception by both the black and white communities.
Primary Works: Nigger Heaven; 1926.