You are on page 1of 2

The Harlem Renaissance In the early 1900s, particularly in the 1920s, African-American literature, art, music, dance, and

social commentary began to flourish in Harlem, a section of e! "or# $ity% This African-American cultural mo&ement became #no!n as 'The e! egro (o&ement' and later as the Harlem Renaissance% (ore than a literary mo&ement, the Harlem Renaissance e)alted the uni*ue culture of African-Americans and redefined African-American e)pression% African-Americans !ere encouraged to celebrate their heritage% The main factors contributing to the de&elopment of the Harlem Renaissance !ere African-American urban migration, trends to!ard e)perimentation throughout the country, and the rise of radical African-American intellectuals% The Harlem Renaissance transformed African-American identity and history, but it also transformed American culture in general% e&er before had so many Americans read the thoughts of African-Americans and embraced the African-American community+s productions, e)pressions, and style% ,hat !as the Harlem Renaissance'.rom 1920 until about 19/0 an unprecedented outburst of creati&e acti&ity among African-Americans occurred in all fields of art% 0eginning as a series of literary discussions in the lo!er (anhattan 12reen!ich 3illage4 and upper (anhattan 1Harlem4 sections of e! "or# $ity, this African-American cultural mo&ement became #no!n as 'The e! egro (o&ement' and later as the Harlem Renaissance% (ore than a literary mo&ement and more than a social re&olt against racism, the Harlem Renaissance e)alted the uni*ue culture of African-Americans and redefined African-American e)pression% African-Americans !ere encouraged to celebrate their heritage and to become 'The e! egro,' a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain 6eRoy 6oc#e% 7ne of the factors contributing to the rise of the Harlem Renaissance !as the great migration of African-Americans to northern cities 1such as e! "or# $ity, $hicago, and ,ashington, 8%$%4 bet!een 1919 and 1929% In his influential boo# The e! egro 119254, 6oc#e described the north!ard migration of blac#s as 'something li#e a spiritual emancipation%' 0lac# urban migration, combined !ith trends in American society as a !hole to!ard e)perimentation during the 1920s, and the rise of radical blac# intellectuals : including 6oc#e, (arcus 2ar&ey, founder of the ;ni&ersal egro Impro&ement Association 1; IA4, and ,% <% 0% 8u 0ois, editor of The $risis maga=ine : all contributed to the particular styles and unprecedented success of blac# artists during the Harlem Renaissance period%' >from @oetry and @rose of the Harlem Renaissance% 7n 12A19A9B I began adding full te)ts of poetry and prose to my site% I thin# it+s important that anybody !ho !ants to be able to access these !or#s can do so freely% I plan to continue adding more !or#s !hene&er I ha&e time% I ha&e no set agenda of !hat I+ll put up ne)t, so if you ha&e a re*uest, let me #no! and I+ll try to accomodate you% Co far I ha&e added a collection of poems by 6angston Hughes, $ountee $ullen, Angelina ,% 2rim#e, Dessie redmon fauset, and Dames ,eldon DohnsonE short stories by ella 6arsen and Fora eale HurstonE and !or#s by (arion 3era $uthbert and Ida 0% ,ells-

0arnett% In 190G se&eral middleclass African American families mo&ed a!ay from the decaying conditions of Black Bohemia of midto!n into the ne!ly-built suburb of Harlem% This initiated a mo&e north of educated African Americans and a foothold into Harlem% In 1910 a large bloc# along 1/5th and .ifth A&e !as bought up by &arious African American realtors and a church group% These purchases caused a '!hite flight' and lo!ered realestate prices% As ,orld ,ar I approached, a shortage of labour ensued at the generous supply of <uropean uns#illed labour ceased to flo! into e! "or# $ity% .rom the southern states came &ast numbers of African Americans attracted not only by the prospect of paid labour but an escape from the inherent ine*uities and blatant institutional racism of the Couth% There !ere &arious patrons of the arts, both blac# and !hite, including the &ery !ealthy A+6elia ,al#er !ho ran an influential salon, the 8ar# To!er from her home, $ountee $ullen 1the Romantic poet4, ora Thurston Feale 1anthropologist4, 6angston Hughes 1play!right and poet4 Three main political figures #ept the hopes of freedom for African Americans ali&e and made Harlem a political hotbed of acti&ities% The three figures !ere the pious, integrationalist ,%<%0% 8ubois, the Dames ,eldon Dohnston and finally the charismatic 0lac# ationalist (arcus 2ar&ey% 19/5 mar#s the end of the era #no!n as the Harlem Renaissance% It !as mostly the result of 8epression economics, but also in part due to the premature death of the patron A+6elia ,al#er in 19/G, $ountee $ullen% Harlem Renaissance African American ethnic pride and creati&ity flourished during the 1920+s% The period+s e)ceptional outpouring of blac# literature came to be called the Harlem Renaissance because it began in Harlem, a district of e! "or# $ity% The mo&ement !as also called the e! egro, after the title of a boo# by educator and !riter Alain 6oc#e% Important African American !riters of the time include Cterling A% 0ro!n, Dames ,eldon Dohnson, $ountee $ullen, 6angston Hughes, $laude (cHay, Dean Toomer, Desse Redmon .auset, and Fora eale Hurston% Dohnson+s God's Trombones 1192B4 consists of se&en blac# sermons set in &erse% His poetry+s dramatic and musical *ualities also reflect his e)perience !riting songs for the musical theater% (cHay !as one of the most po!erful blac# poets% He began !ith poems in dialect% 6ater, he !rote highly formal but emotional &erse, often on e)plosi&e topics% Hughes made a deliberate effort to bring the rhythms of African American music into poetry% 0ro!n used dialect in subtly &aried !ays both to protest against racial preIudice and to e)press pride in the distincti&e cultural tradition of African Americans% $ullen !as mainly a lyric poet, but he sometimes used &erse to protest racism% 0lac# prose !riters also flourished during the Harlem Renaissance% Toomer's Cane 1192/4 is a sophisticated mi)ture of short stories, s#etches, poetry, and a play% Hurston collected African American fol# tales and became !ell #no!n as a s#illed oral storyteller% Her best-#no!n no&el, Their Eyes Were Watching God 119/B4, traces a blac# !oman+s steady gro!th in insight and spiritual strength% Her characters are &i&id, realistic mi)tures of strength and !ea#ness% 6oc#e !rote se&eral nonfiction !or#s on African American culture%