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 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.
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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 ?
Women Artists of the Harlem Renaissance (University Press of Mississippi, 2014, pp.
While critics have, of course, noted the importance of Boasian anthropology for Harlem Renaissance writers, they have not performed the kind of close readings of his work that Farebrother presents.
THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE (2008; $49), by Kevin Hillstrom.
This personal response to the giants of the Harlem Renaissance pays powerful tribute to the impact arts can have, the community arts can create, the pride arts can share.
7) Among its limitations, the book does not focus its lens wide enough to capture the fullness of the militant New Negro movement of the 1920s, of which the black campus uprisings, Harlem Renaissance, and Garveyism were all part.
An excerpt from Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen's poem, "Heritage," opens the novel, bringing to mind one of his earliest books of poetry, Copper Sun, while illuminating the book's theme: what is Africa to me?
Hurston's career was a tragic one with a posthumous coda - she slipped from the pinnacle of the Harlem renaissance of the 1930s to laboring as a hotel maid in the 1950s, dying in obscurity until Alice Walker revived interest in her work in the '70s.
Calvin Craig Miller's No Easy Answers: Bayard Rustin & The Civil Rights Movement (1931798435) tells of the grandson of a former slave who was drawn to the world of the Harlem Renaissance, there to become an organizer working for civil rights.
Famous African Americans who made the Harlem Renaissance so important included the poet Langston Hughes, the musician Duke Ellington, and the writer Zora Neale Hurston.
Wirth in his Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance (2002), which I reviewed in this journal (Nov.
Boutte, a longtime New Yorker whose career has been primarily in theater, already had a high Harlem Renaissance IQ: He and a friend wrote a musical, produced in 2002, based on the work of Zora Neale Hurston.
A group of prominent African Americans have been chosen to help establish a museum that will chronicle everything from slavery to the Harlem Renaissance, Entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey, Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal.