Khalil Dickerson 2nd period March 7,2011 HARLEM RENAISSANCE
Art • Between 1920-1930 an unprecedented outburst of creative activity among African-Americans occurred in all fields of art. • This African-American cultural movement became known as "The New Negro Movement" and later as the Harlem Renaissance. Harlem attracted a prosperous and stylish black middle class from which sprang an extraordinary artistic center. Like the activist movements in Europe, it embraced all art-forms, including • Music • Dance • Film • Theatre • Cabaret
Major People • Important figures included writer/mentor James Weldon Johnson; writer/philosopher Alain Locke; poetry anthologist Countee Cullen; Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurtson. Arna Bontemps's 1931 novel, "God Sends Sunday," is considered the last work of the Harlem Renaissance, according to "Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature."
How Did the Harlem Renaissance Impact American Culture? • After the American civil war, liberated African-Americans searched for a safe place to explore their new identities as free men and women. They found it in Harlem. Read on to find out how this New York neighborhood became home to some of the best and brightest minds of the 20th century, gave birth to a cultural revolution, and earned its status as "the capital of black America."
Zora Neale Hurston • Zora Neale Hurston is considered one of the pre-eminent writers of twentieth-century African-American literature. Hurston was closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance and has influenced such writers as Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Gayle Jones, Alice Walker and Toni Cade Bambara.
Duke Ellington • Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was responsible for over 2,000 jazz compositions in his lifetime, defining the sound of jazz not only during the Harlem Renaissance but beyond. He learned to play piano at the age of seven, which evolved into his Duke Ellington Orchestra performing for clubs, motion pictures, operas and ballets. His 1931 hit "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" became pivotal in shaping swing music over the following decade.
Langston Hughes • James Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was a small child, and his father moved to Mexico. He was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen, when he moved to Lincoln, Illinois, to live with his mother and her husband, before the family eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio
Bessie Smith • Bessie Smith is known as "Empress of the Blues" for her immersion into every style and storyline of blues imaginable. She performed vaudeville in the 1910s, but was signed to a contract with Columbia Records upon arriving in New York City, and became an instant star. She focused on the Blues with her celebrated deep voice, becoming one of the highest-paid African-American entertainers of the 1920s. One of her biggest hits, "St. Louis Blues," was recorded with famed musician Louis Armstrong.
W.E.B. DuBois • William Edward Burghardt DuBois worked diligently as an educator and political activist to prove that the key to ending racism lay in education. His 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk scientifically analyzed racism in America, criticizing both blacks and whites in their shortcomings in solving this issue. He organized the Niagara Movement, which led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was also responsible for assembling four Pan-African Congresses, which brought together leaders of America, Africa and the Caribbean in discussing issues important to those of African descent.
Meta Warrick Fuller • Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was a sculptor who not only created works that exemplified ideals of the Harlem Renaissance, but also challenged the art world in her rejection of Neoclassicism. Meta preferred raw, rough and expressive materials that conveyed high emotion, as opposed to the polished and calm surfaces of Neoclassic works. Her sculpture Ethiopia Awakening achieved great renown. Made of bronze, it portrays an African woman unwrapping herself from the mummy shroud she is wearing, a symbol for the cultural awakening of African-Americans.
What Was the Harlem Renaissance? Before the Movement • According to "Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature," before the Harlem Renaissance, literature by black Americans often consisted of imitations of white authors or "quaint dialect works."
Facts Historical Factors • As black Americans migrated from the South to the North to fill jobs left vacant by World War I soldiers, a feeling of increased confidence, pride and solidarity among African-Americans began to take shape. Characteristics • Harlem Renaissance writings reflected the new-found pride in black culture and a desire to explore the African-American experience. They often incorporated traditional elements such as folklore and spirituals, but also moved into wider literary movements such as realism and modernism.
The Jazz age • With the conclusion of WWI came an end to wartime frugality and conservation. In an era of peace, Americans experienced an economic boom, as well as a change in social morays. Nicknamed “The Roaring 20s” for its dynamic changes, the decade became known for its celebration of excess and its rejection of wartime ideologies. Americans also began investing more time and money in leisure activities and artistic endeavors.
The Literary Movement • The American public would have never read Richard Wright's "Native Son" if it weren't for the Harlem Renaissance. The movement was primarily a literary one. Writers like Wright, who worked during the 30s and 40s---after the Renaissance was over---wouldn't have found their voice in mainstream American literature without the Harlem Renaissance.
Modern Successors • According to Spiritus-Temporis.com, American culture still feels the impact of the Harlem Renaissance today. Writers like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker and filmmakers like Spike Lee hold an important place in American culture because of the Harlem Renaissance.
The End of the Renaissance • As the 20s came to a close, so did white America’s infatuation with Harlem- and the artistic and intellectual movements surrounding it. The advent of The Great Depression also crushed the wild enthusiasm of “The Roaring 20s,” bringing an end to the decadence and indulgence that fueled the patronage of Harlem artists and their establishments.