Harlem Renaissance

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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.
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 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.
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 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).
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 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 LockeLocke, Alain LeRoy,
1885–1954, American writer, educator, philosopher, and cultural critic, b. Philadelphia, grad. Harvard (A.B., 1907; Ph.D., 1918), first African-American Rhodes Scholar at Oxford (1907–10), One of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, he was a
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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.
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, 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
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, 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.
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, 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
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, 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
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, 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.
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, 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.
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. 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.
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 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
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 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.

References in periodicals archive ?
He familiarized American readers with the Harlem Renaissance by editing a special Harlem issue for Survey Graphic (March 1925), which he expanded into The New Negro (1925), an anthology of fiction, poetry, drama, and essays.
compiles 21 biographical essays that discuss the lives and contributions of key individuals in literature, music, visual and performing arts, social activism, and politics during the Harlem Renaissance.
Thus, Morgan astutely anticipates and preempts postcolonial scholars and Pan-Africanists who are certain to argue for the intellectual and cultural preeminence of the Harlem Renaissance and the inspiration it provided to other movements like Negritude in the global black struggle against colonization, economic exploitation, and racial discrimination.
A prolific writer and a prominent Harlem Renaissance figure, Bontemps published more than 40 works in his lifetime.
Nugent's introduction to Langston Hughes in 1925 signaled the beginning of his lifelong fascination with the arts and his contribution to the literary and political movements of the Harlem Renaissance.
This collection of 10 essays offer literary criticism of a variety of works of the Harlem Renaissance, the African American cultural explosion centered in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem and generally recognized as lasting from 1920 to 1940.
Webb & Brooker has partnered with the FATA Organization and Chappel Ventures to construct Harlem Renaissance Plaza, the redevelopment of the original Mart 125, located across from the Apollo Theater on 125th Street.
5) By 1943 she had submitted her entire "book of plays" to the Wendell Malliet publishing company in New York, and her 1952 correspondence with Harlem Renaissance patron Harold Jackman reveals she continued to seek a publisher for her "book of plays.
A major figure of the Harlem Renaissance, McKay imbued his poetry with similar seemingly contradictory impulses.