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The Harlem Renaissance. Mr. Oppel AP US History. “The Harlem Renaissance probed racial themes and what it meant to be black in America”. I. Introduction. A. Definition Generic term describes Manhattan-based (NYC) cultural movement 1920s and 30s. B. Location. New York City.

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The harlem renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance

Mr. Oppel

AP US History

The harlem renaissance

“The Harlem Renaissance probed racial themes and what it meant to be black in America”

I introduction

I. Introduction

  • A. Definition

    • Generic term

    • describes Manhattan-based (NYC) cultural movement

    • 1920s and 30s

The harlem renaissance

B. Location

New York


Manhattan island

Manhattan Island





C european origins

C. European Origins

  • 1. European Art

    • French artists study West African sculpture

    • Popularize artistic primitivism

      • Spontaneous

      • Instinctive

Amedeo modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani

Pablo picasso

Pablo Picasso

  • Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

  • 1907

  • African masks

2 european music

2. European Music

  • Incorporate syncopation from ragtime

  • Later reintroduced to jazz

Sousa on tour in europe

Sousa on Tour in Europe

  • 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

  • touring repertoire began to include early ragtime cakewalks and syncopated songs

The harlem renaissance

  • introduced ragtime to Europe

  • Performances

    • Paris Exposition

    • Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany

The harlem renaissance

  • Incorporate American jazz

    • Claude DeBussy

      • Children’s Corner, 1906-8

    • Igor Stravinsky

      • Le Sacre duprintemps, 1913

    • Eric Satie

      • Parade, 1917

The harlem renaissance

  • Black jazz bands toured Europe during WWI

D american influences

D. American influences

  • Southern Counter- Reconstruction

    • Black Codes

    • Jim Crow laws

Wwi experience in europe

WWI Experience in Europe

  • Harlem Hellfighters

The great migration urbanization

The Great Migration & Urbanization

The red scare

The Red Scare

  • The NEW YORK TIMES lamented the new black militancy:

  • "There had been no trouble with the Negro before the war when most admitted the superiority of the white race."

Claude mckay if we must die 1919

Claude McKayIf We must Die, 1919

  • If we must die, let it not be like hogsHunted and penned in an inglorious spot,While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,Making their mock at our accursed lot.If we must die, O let us nobly die,So that our precious blood may not be shedIn vain; then even the monsters we defyShall be constrained to honor us though dead!O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!What though before us lies the open grave?Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Ii harlem renaissance

II. Harlem Renaissance

  • A. Activists

  • B. Artists & Photographers

  • C. Writers

  • D. Composers, Musicians,

    Actors & Singers



  • “The nation was on the verge of a ‘renaissance of American Negro literature’”

    W.E.B. DuBois

    NAACP’s Crisis, 1920

The harlem renaissance

  • “America was ‘on the edge, if not already in the midst of, what might not improperly be called a Negro renaissance’”

    New York Herald Tribune, 1925

A activists

A. Activists

Marcus garvey 1887 1940

Marcus Garvey1887-1940

  • Jamaican

  • “Back to Africa” movement

  • Universal Negro Improvement Association

The harlem renaissance

  • Uniform of the “Provisional President of Africa”

  • Opened office in Harlem in 1917

The harlem renaissance

  • Black Star steamship line

  • Raised money to help blacks emigrate to Africa

The harlem renaissance

  • Liberia feared he was a revolutionary and pulled away its support

  • Jailed & deported to Jamaica, 1923

African folklore africanism

African Folklore & Africanism





B artists photographers

B. Artists & Photographers

  • Aaron Douglas

  • Jacob Lawrence

  • LM Jones

  • Arthur J. Motley, Jr.

  • James Van Der Zee

Aaron douglas

Aaron Douglas

  • Painted murals

  • Illustrated The Crisis and Opportunity

  • taught art at Fisk University

Aaron douglas1

Aaron Douglas

Aspects of

Negro Life, 1934

The harlem renaissance




The harlem renaissance

L.M. Jones

The Ascent

of Ethiopia,


Arthur j motley jr

Arthur J. Motley, Jr.

  • 1891 – 1981

  • Art Institute of Chicago

  • Realistic, urban subjects, jazz, & abstract painting

Cocktails 1926

Cocktails, 1926

The harlem renaissance

  • Motley

  • Blues,


James van der zee

James Van Der Zee

  • 1886 – 1983

  • photographer

  • celebrated the black middle class

  • brought dignity

  • reshaped the image of blackness

The harlem renaissance

"A Couple Wearing Raccoon Coats With a Cadillac, Taken on West 127th Street," photograph by James Van Der Zee, 1932

The harlem renaissance

Alpha Phi Alpha Basketball Team, 1926

Alpha Phi




C writers

Countee Cullen

Langston Hughes

Alain Locke

Claude McKay

Wallace Thurman

Jeane Toomer

Walter White

Jessie Fauset

Zora Neale Hurston

Nella Larsen

C. Writers

Purpose of writing

Many establishment blacks “wanted black writers to promote positive images”

The writers themselves wanted to show realism of life in Harlem

purpose of writing?

African american publications

African–American publications


Urban League

The naacp magazine

The NAACP magazine

  • Art

    • Aaron Douglas

  • Literature

    • Countee Cullen

    • Langston Hughes

    • Clause McKay

Claude mckay

Claude McKay

  • Born in Jamaica

  • Wrote poetry and novels

  • Tried to use poetry to inform as well as please

The harlem renaissance

  • Wrote poem “If We must Die” in response to a series of 1919 race riots

  • Fled to Soviet Union and Europe,1922

  • In conflict with “Harlem Renaissance” and claimed to be an older “forerunner”

Langston hughes

Langston Hughes

  • Lived in MO and Cleveland

  • Worked or traveled in Mexico, Europe, and Africa

  • Harlem Renaissance poet

The harlem renaissance

  • Stressed nobility of lowly walks of life, developed racial pride, place of AA in white world

  • Gained attention of whites and raised self-esteem of blacks

The harlem renaissance

  • Wrote in African-American vernacular

  • Brought rhythm of blues and jazz to writing process

  • “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, “Negro”, “Harlem”, “Weary Blues”

Zora neale hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

  • Raised in all-black town in Florida near Orlando

  • Literary realism and consciousness of race issues like degree of skin-color

The harlem renaissance

  • “Color Struck”

  • Mules and Men, 1935

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937

D composers musicians





Stage Concerts


D. Composers & Musicians

1 jazz


  • Harlem jazz culture

    • Clubs, cabarets, theaters, ballrooms, rent parties

    • Liquor

    • White and black worlds

The harlem renaissance

  • Musical origins

    • African American

    • Southern

    • poor

    • rural

    • Blues, Negro Spirituals, Ragtime

The harlem renaissance

  • Criticism of jazz

    • as music

      • “cacophpony” and “deliberate vulgarity”

      • “Bolshevistic smashing of the rules of music”

      • Jazzing and ad libbing

The harlem renaissance

  • as a cultural influence

    • Promoted “daring couple dancing”

    • The “sex-exciting” music affected girls morals and threatened chaste girls

White clubs


shows and music

black staff

dance shows

light-skinned girls

5’6” or taller

under 21

White Clubs



  • Hurston’s name for whites interested in Harlem life

    • fascinated with Negro culture

    • still condescended with views of exoticism and a lack of civilization

Connie s inn

Connie’s Inn

  • Fats Waller

  • Bill “Bojangles” Robison

  • Louis Armstrong

Cotton club

Cotton Club

  • Cab Calloway

  • Duke Ellington

Black clubs

Black Clubs

  • for blacks

  • less expensive

  • food, music, no shows

Duke ellington 1899

Duke Ellington, 1899 - ?

  • Went to NYC at 23

  • Played with bands & then formed own

  • pianist, conductor, orchestrator

  • Improvised well

  • Rose to prominence from 1928 – 1934 playing at the Cotton Club in Harlem

The harlem renaissance

  • Jazz compositions 1928-34

    • “The Mooche”

    • “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”

    • “Mood Indigo”

    • “Sophisticated Lady”

Bessie smith

Bessie Smith

2 negro spirituals

2. Negro Spirituals

  • Sung for musical merit

  • Not baggage of slavery

  • Performers

    • Marian Anderson

    • Paul Robeson

3 broadway


  • Eubie Blake & Noble Sissle

    • Shuffle Along, 1921

    • Chocolate Dandies, 1924

  • Fats Waller

    • Ain’t Misbehavin’

The harlem renaissance

  • White writers supported movement

    • Sherwood Anderson,

      Sinclair Lewis, & Eugene O’Neil

  • Secret financial benefactors

    • Tried to encourage the exoticism

Paul robeson

Paul Robeson

  • Lawyer

  • Athlete

  • Singer

  • Actor

  • Political radical

The harlem renaissance

  • Robeson won the title role in Eugene O’Neil’s Broadway play The Emperor Jones on a lark and improvised on stage into success

The harlem renaissance

  • George Gershwin

    • Porgy and Bess

  • Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein

    • Showboat

  • Eugene O’Neil

    • The Emperor Jones

    • All God’s Chillun Got Wings

The harlem renaissance

  • In London

    • The Emperor Jones

    • Showboat, 1928

    • Othello, 1930 (picture on left from 1944)

The harlem renaissance

  • Better treatment in Europe led him to radicalism

    • Socialism

    • Communism

    • Ties to U.S.S.R.

Josephine baker

Josephine Baker

  • Born in St. Louis

  • Performing by 15 as a singer and dancer

  • Expatriate

The harlem renaissance

  • Shuffle Along, 1921-23

    • danced

    • sang

    • clowned

    • improvised









Sophisticated lady

sophisticated lady

La revue negre

La Revue Negre

  • Paris, France

    • scantily clad

    • erotic dancing

    • suggestive music

La folie du jour

“La Folie du Jour”

  • Paris, France, 1926

    • Folies Berger night club

    • topless, banana skirt, climbs down a tree like an animal

    • danced the charleston

    • erotic and comic

The charleston

“the charleston”

The end of a movement

The end of a movement

  • By the late 20s & early 30s

  • Economic hardships with the Depression

  • Participants “moved on”

  • Some prospered throughout the 30s



  • Harlem Renaissance


  • Josephine Baker


  • Claude DeBussy


  • Marcus Garvey




  • Amedeo Modigliani



  • Pablo Picasso





  • Red Summer


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