The Harlem Renaissance

The New Negro Movement

Responds to Questions: 1.) What historical, social, and cultural forces shaped the Harlem Renaissance?

After WWI, a great migration of African Americans, an estimated of 13 million people, moved from the rural South to the Urban North between 1910 and 1930. A period of progressive change, in how people saw themselves, where they lived, cultural expression, literature and literacy and many other ways, were shaping the Harlem Renaissance. The establishment of Harlem as the cultural, intellectual, and social capital of Black American played a major role. The fame of many places in Harlem increased and some became legendary. Entertainment oriented places including night clubs, theaters like the Lafayette, and gathering of social events helped to bring together talented people to create enjoyment, and further the spread of new ideas and and cultures.

2.) What does Johnson's poem say about the vitality of the city during the Harlem Renaissance?

Johnson's poem says that the vitality of the city is the things he sees, smells, and hears. He says the keenest loss will be when he can't see the trees, smell the flowers, hear the singing birds, watch the flashing streams or patient herds, therefore the vitality of the city is the life of the city itself.

3.) What details does Hurston use to prevent her views on succeeding despite social barriers?

Hurston shared in "How it Feels to Be Colored Me" that northerners looked at her differently. She said that it did not stop her from wanting to achieve her goals in writing.

4.) How does Hughes use the analogy of rivers to express his perception of African American heritage and history?

He uses it by refering to the rivers as ancient and the African American heritage is very old. He also talked about how he has a deep soul and many of the influential people in the African American heritage had deep souls.

5.) Why was Harlem the center of the rennassiance of African American arts on the 1920s a James Weldon Johnson's 1933 description of the Harlem Renaissance?

The Harlem Rennaissance brought unprecedented creative activity in writing, art, and music and redefined expressions of African Americans and their heritage in the 1920's and 1930's. The literature, art, and music of the period portray the despair of generations of unfulfilled promises as well as the dream of a new society based on equality of oppurtunity, and James Weldon Johnson's work came to life because of Harlem even though he came from the African American culture.

6.) How did the Harlem Renaissance impact American society during the 1920s and beyond?

The Harlem Renaissance helped create equality for all people and played a vital role in the ending of racial discrimination later in history. The publication of many major books by important writers such as Alain Locke, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes, was an inspiration to many in the 1920's and continues to be one today. Women in the Harlem Renaissance also had a pervasive role as writers, artists, performers, supporters, and social activists. African American women were more active and influential like Josephine Baker, who made Harlem a musical and dance capital whose influence was felt world wide. All of the Harlem Renaissance's results and outcomes lasted long after it ended and thus helped to change the African American image forever.

7.) In what ways did W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington influence politics during the Harlem Renaissance?

the Harlem Renaissance Booker T. Wahington and W.E.B Duboise helped influence politics during this time period. Duboise founded the National Association for the Advancement of of Colored People which was meant to ensure political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all people and to eliminate racial hatred and discrimination. Duboise also believed that the vocational education to the exclusion of the liberal arts would deprive African Americans o the well- trained leaders they sorely needed. He argued that the blacks must press for civil rights rather than accommodate inequality. Duboise had different political opinions than Booker T. Washington. Booker T. Washington became a leader in black education and a strong influence as a racial representative in national politics. Washington rejected the pursuit of political and social equality with whites in favor of developing vocational skills and a reputation for stability and dependability. He urged African Americans to remain where they were and tolerate racial discrimination rather than to make what he intemperate calls for equality.

8.) How do the arts communicate historical data and perspective?

The songs in the Harlem Renaissance reflected how the blacks were treated and their new freedoms.

9.) What were the significant economic events that preceded the great migration?

The African Americans moved in the Great Migration because of economic reasons like the Great Depression. They would also move to industrial cities so they could find more job opportunities.

10.) What was there about the Harlem neighborhood that encouraged so may artists to produce great work at this time?

The Harlem Renaissance encouraged many artist to produce great work at this time because it helped the white population take notice of the literature of African Americans. It expressed the pride in the Black communities and motivated many African Americans to celebrate their culture through literature and art.

11.) what is the historical significance of "I, Too" by Langston Hughes?

12.) What prompted the theme of "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes and how is this theme applicable in any time period?

Dancing in Harlem!

Poetry Of the Harlem Renaissance

The intent of poetry in the Harlem Renaissance was to improve and uplift African Americans through historical awareness and self- worth in black Americans. A lot of the poetry in the Harlem Renaissance is characterized as an examination of the historical place of contemporary African Americans with the regards to history and the future.

Jazz Scene

The jazz scene includes the Cotton Club, The Apollo Theater, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Fletcher Henderson. The Cotton Club became very popular, Duke Ellington led the house band from 1927 to 1930. The entertainers who played at the cotton club were some of the most widely known blues and jazz performers of their time including Ethel Waters, Cab Calloway, Ellington and many others.
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Aaron Douglas was a Harlem Renaissance artist whose work best exemplified the " New Negro" philosophy. He painted murals for public building and produced illustrations. His first major commission was to illustrate Alain LeRoy Locke's Book.
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W.E.B Dubois

  • One of the most important African American activists during the 1st half of the 20th century
  • Co-founded the NAACP
  • 1st African American to earn a degree from Harvard
  • Supported Pan-Africanism-- the belief that all people of African descent had common interests and should work together in the struggle for their freedom
  • Best known spokesperson for African American rights
Booker T. Washington

  • One of the foremost African American leaders of the late 19th and early 20th century
  • Founded Tuskegee University
  • He rejected the pursuit of political and social equality with whites in favor of developing vocational skills and a reputation for stability and dependability