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Harlem Renaissance,term used to describe a flowering of African-American literature and art in the 1920s, mainly in the HarlemHarlem,
residential and business section of upper Manhattan, New York City, bounded roughly by 110th St., the East River and Harlem River, 168th St., Amsterdam Ave., and Morningside Park. The Dutch settlement of Nieuw Haarlem was established by Peter Stuyvesant in 1658.
..... Click the link for more information. district of New York City. During the mass migration of African Americans from the rural agricultural South to the urban industrial North (1914–18), many who came to New York settled in Harlem, as did a good number of black New Yorkers who moved from other areas of the city. Meanwhile, Southern black musicians brought jazzjazz,
the most significant form of musical expression of African-American culture and arguably the most outstanding contribution the United States has made to the art of music. Origins of Jazz
Jazz developed in the latter part of the 19th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. with them to the North and to Harlem. The area soon became a sophisticated literary and artistic center. A number of periodicals were influential in creating this milieu, particularly the magazines Crisis, which was published by W. E. B. Du BoisDu Bois, W. E. B.
(William Edward Burghardt Du Bois) , 1868–1963, American civil-rights leader and author, b. Great Barrington, Mass., grad. Harvard (B.A., 1890; M.A., 1891; Ph.D., 1895).
..... Click the link for more information. and urged racial pride among African Americans, and Opportunity, published by the National Urban League. Also influential was the book The New Negro: An Interpretation (1925), edited by Alain Locke.
Responding to the heady intellectual atmosphere of the time and place, writers and artists, many of whom lived in Harlem, began to produce a wide variety of fine and highly original works dealing with African-American life. These works attracted many black readers. New to the wider culture, they also attracted commercial publishers and a large white readership. Writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance include Arna BontempsBontemps, Arna,
1902–73, African-American writer, b. Alexandria, La. He is best remembered as the author of the novel God Sends Sunday (1931), the basis of the play St.
..... Click the link for more information. , Langston HughesHughes, Langston
(James Langston Hughes), 1902–67, American poet and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, b. Joplin, Mo., grad. Lincoln Univ., 1929. He worked at a variety of jobs and lived in several countries, including Mexico and France, before Vachel Lindsay
..... Click the link for more information. , Claude McKayMcKay, Claude
, 1890–1948, American poet and novelist, b. Jamaica, studied at Tuskegee and the Univ. of Kansas. A major figure of the Harlem Renaissance, McKay is best remembered for his poems treating racial themes.
..... Click the link for more information. , Countee CullenCullen, Countee
, 1903–46, American poet, b. New York City, grad. New York Univ. 1925, M.A. Harvard, 1926. A major writer of the Harlem Renaissance—a flowering of black artistic and literary talent in the 1920s—Cullen wrote poetry inspired by American black
..... Click the link for more information. , James Weldon JohnsonJohnson, James Weldon,
1871–1938, American author, b. Jacksonville, Fla., educated at Atlanta Univ. (B.A., 1894) and at Columbia. Johnson was the first African American to be admitted to the Florida bar and later was American consul (1906–12), first in Venezuela and
..... Click the link for more information. , Zora Neale HurstonHurston, Zora Neale,
1891?–60, African-American writer, b. Notasulga, Ala. She grew up in the pleasant all-black town of Eatonville, Fla. and, moving north, graduated from Barnard College, where she studied with Franz Boas.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Jean ToomerToomer, Jean,
1894–1967, American writer, b. Washington, D.C., as Nathan Eugene Toomer. A major figure of the Harlem Renaissance, he is known mainly for Cane (1923, rev. ed.
..... Click the link for more information. . Visual artists connected with the movement are less generally known. Among the painters are Aaron Douglas, Palmer Hayden, Malvin G. Johnson, and William H. Johnson. The best-known sculptor is probably Augusta Savage. Photographers include James Van Der ZeeVan Der Zee, James,
1886–1983, American photographer, b. Lenox, Mass. The son of Ulysses S. Grant's maid and butler, Van Der Zee opened his first studio in Harlem, New York City, in 1915.
..... Click the link for more information. and Roy De Carava. The Harlem Renaissance faded with the onset of the Great DepressionGreat Depression,
in U.S. history, the severe economic crisis generally considered to have been precipitated by the U.S. stock-market crash of 1929. Although it shared the basic characteristics of other such crises (see depression), the Great Depression was unprecedented in its
..... Click the link for more information. of the 1930s.
See D. L. Lewis, ed., The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader (1994) and as author, When Harlem Was In Vogue (1981, repr. 1997); N. I. Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (1971); B. Kellner, ed., The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era (1987); M. S. Campbell, ed., Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America (1987, repr. 1994); L. Harris, ed., The Philosophy of Alain Locke: Harlem Renaissance and Beyond (1989); H. Bloom, ed., Black American Prose Writers of the Harlem Renaissance (1994); J. O. G. Ogbar, The Harlem Renaissance Revisited: Politics, Arts, and Letters (2010). In addition, many materials relating to the period can be found in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York City.