The Harlem Renaissance. Background. African-American political and cultural movement Emerged after end of World War I Continued for nearly two decades. National movement that showcased African-American achievements in: Literature, Music, Politics, Dance, and the Performing arts.
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Background • African-American political and cultural movement • Emerged after end of World War I • Continued for nearly two decades. • National movement that showcased African-American achievements in: • Literature, • Music, • Politics, • Dance, and • the Performing arts. • Identified with the New York City neighborhood of Harlem Palmer Hayden’s We Four in Paris
The Significance of Harlem • Not the only site of African-American achievement during the Black Renaissance, Harlem was an important focal point. • James Weldon Johnson • African- American poet, editor, and civil rights leader • Wrote about the importance of Harlem to the Black Renaissance in his autobiography, Along This Way (1933). • “when Harlem was made known as the scene of laughter, singing, dancing, primitive passions, and as the center of the new Negro literature and art; the era in which it gained its place in the list of famous sections of great cities.” James Weldon Johnson
Factors Contributing to the Spread of the Harlem Renaissance • Historians generally highlight four factors that contributed to the growth of the movement. They include: • the large-scale migration of blacks out of the South that was known as the Great Migration • the rise of a new African- American educated elite • the New Negro Movement • an increase in white intellectual interest in African-American life and culture.
The Great Migration • Hundreds of thousands of African Americans traveled to northern cities the hope of establishing a better life. • Motivated by a desire to escape the economic and political inequities in the South • Demographics in northern cities underwent significant changes. • In 1910, 3 out of every 4African Americans resided on farms, and 9out of 10made their homes in the South. • Estimated 1.5 million African-Americans migrated to northern cities.
The Rise of a New African-American Educated Elite • Appearance of a new African-American educated elite especially in the North • New educational and employment opportunities spurred the appearance of an African-American middle class. • Two examples of this new black intellectual elite • Massachusetts-born scholar W.E.B. DuBois • Washington, D.C., native Mary Church Terrell W.E.B DuBois
The New Negro Movement • African Americans evidenced a new racial consciousness through the New Negro Movement • New consciousness influenced the Black Renaissance. • Howard University Professor Alain Locke described this transformation in a 1925 essay entitled “The New Negro.” • Essay highlighted the new sense of assertiveness and independence among African Americans • “New Negro” needed to “smash” all of the racial, social, and psychological barriers that had hampered black achievement
Increase in White Intellectual Interest in African- American Life and Culture • White intellectuals helped to spread the Black Renaissance in positive and negative ways. • White novelist Carl Van Vechten, painted a portrait of Harlem as a lively place. • Book reinforced cultural stereotypes about African Americans • Attracted the New York elite, both white and black, to African-American nightlife. • White literary society was introduced to African-American literature • Provided new possibilities for African-American writers. • Magazine, The Survey Graphic, published a whole issue about Harlem, which Alian Locke edited. • Issue focused mainly on black literature and art and featured works by African Americans. Carl Van Vechten
Luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance Langston Hughes Alain Leroy Locke Zora Neale Hurston Gwendolyn Bennett
I, Too I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'lldare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then. Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed– I, too, am America.
Luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance Jelly Roll Morton Billie Holiday Duke Ellington
Legacy of the Harlem Renaissance • Changed the way people perceived African-American culture. • Its reverberations can still be felt. • Literary works of the period continue to inspire writers and poets. • Influence not limited to the United States. • Famed musician and actor Paul Robeson and dancer Josephine Baker traveled to Europe where the influence of the Harlem Renaissance was strong. • Inspired many African Americans to believe they had a voice that could not be suppressed. Josephine Baker performing the Charleston