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The Harlem Renaissance
“Harlem was not so much a place as a state of mind, the cultural metaphor for black America itself. ”
Harlem Renaissance Lasted from 1919 -1937. Goals of the Harlem Renaissance: – To respond to the social conditions of African. Americans; – To break with the 19 th century minstrel stereotypes of African-Americans; – To place greater emphasis on black folk culture; – To provide political and social uplift for African. Americans through social programs such as the NAACP. 3
What is it? The Harlem Renaissance was a flowering of African American social thought which was expressed through – Paintings – Music – Dance – Theater – Literature
Where is Harlem? The island of Manhattan New York City is on Manhattan island Neighborhoods
1920 1911 1930
Causes What events and movements do you think may have helped lead to the Renaissance? Great Migration: the movement of hundreds of thousands of African Americans from rural areas in the South to urban areas in both he North and South.
How does the Harlem Renaissance connect to the Great Migration? The economic opportunities of the era triggered a widespread migration of black Americans from the rural south to the industrial centers of the north - and especially to New York City. In New York and other cities, black Americans explored new opportunities for intellectual and social freedom. Black American artists, writers, and musicians began to use their talents to work for civil rights and obtain equality.
Causes Growing African American Middle Class: developed as a result of improved educational and employment opportunities for African Americans. The Harlem section of New York became the center of this new African American class.
Causes Political Agenda For Civil Rights by African Americans: leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey and the NAACP helped to inspire racial pride in the middle and working class. Du Bois, author of The Souls of Black Folks, was instrumental in the foundation of the NAACP. Marcus Garvey pushed for the Back to Africa movement
Causes Red Summer of 1919 In response to the gains by African Americans, many whites fought back during the summer of 1919. There were 25 major race riots and at least 83 African Americans were lynched. The Ku Klux Klan held over 200 meeting to increase enrollment.
Impact The Harlem section of New York City was transformed from a deteriorating area into a thriving middle class community. Before After
How did it impact history? The Harlem Renaissance helped to redefine how Americans and the world understood African American culture. It integrated black and white cultures, and marked the beginning of a black urban society. Pride in AA culture and history. A cultural awakening to reclaim black history and culture and to look past slavery Prove intellectual equality with whites through art, literature, music, culture The Harlem Renaissance set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950 s and 60 s.
Modernism & the Harlem Renaissance Blacks view surge in art, music and literature as the creation of a new cultural identity. Whites see it as another new, exotic, and trendy form of entertainment.
The Harlem Renaissance incorporated all aspects of African American culture in its literature and several themes emerged.
Themes in Art, Music and Literature: A strong sense of racial pride and desire for social and political equality Jazz introduced African-inspired rhythms and themes in compositions Rural Southern Roots: - reflected in novels by Jean Toomer and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God - Jacob Lawrence’s art: Harriet Tubman series and black migration
Themes Continued… African-American Urban Experience and Racism Use of Black Music & Folklore as an Inspiration for Poetry, Short Stories, and Novels
Through all these themes Harlem Renaissance writers were determined to express the African. American experience in all its variety and complexity as realistically as possible.
Major Literary Figures • Claude Mc. Kay – If We Must Die • Langston Hughes – I Too • Contee Cullen – Incident • Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God • Wallace Thurman – The Blacker the Berry
Music in the Harlem Renaissance Jazz and the Blues emerged as powerful forms of American music in 1920 s Harlem Nightclubs attracted white patrons to hear leading black musicians – Duke Ellington – Cab Calloway – Louis Armstrong - Bessie Smith
Music in the Harlem Renaissance
The Cotton Club The Duke Ellington Orchestra was the "house" orchestra for a number of years at the Cotton Club. The revues featured glamorous dancing girls, acclaimed tap dancers, vaudeville performers, and comics. All the white world came to Harlem to see the show. The first Cotton Club revue was in 1923. There were two new fast paced revues produced a year for at least 16 years.
Other Important Places Within Harlem & Nightlife: In addition to the Cotton Club, at Lennox and 140 th Street the Savoy Ballroom hosted most of Harlem’s major social events and parties, where blacks and whites mingles on the dance floor and where the Lindy Hop was invented.
Art of the Harlem Renaissance Before 1920 s, Black artists had generally reflected European aesthetics, because most had been trained by white artists With the rise of the Harlem Renaissance, black artists began to portray black subjects, and African and Caribbean styles
The White Influence on the Harlem Renaissance: The Harlem Renaissance appealed to a mixed audience—the African American middle class and white consumers of the arts. Urban whites suddenly took up New York’s African-American community, bestowing their patronage on young artists, opening up publishing opportunities, and pumping cash into Harlem’s “exotic” nightlife in a complex relationship that scholars continue to probe.
Background Information on Author Zora Neale Hurston was born in Eatonville, Florida in 1891. She lived in an all African-American community for her childhood years. She wrote several novels and short stories. Her life’s motto was “Jump at the sun!” given to her by her mother. Her writing helped shape future female African-American writers’ approach to authorship and development of identity. She was a writer, anthropologist and political activist. 29
Zora Neale Hurston’s Influence on the Harlem Renaissance Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered the last text of the Harlem Renaissance. Her portrayal of an African. American female able to define herself outside of social conventions and stereotypes has provided a model for modern African Americans seeking their identities in unconventional roles. 30
Hurston’s Views of the South Zora Neale Hurston believed that authentic black culture can only be found in the south. Hurston opposed the integrationist measures implemented in the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, seeing integration as a way for cultural values to become tainted. Hurston became a spokeswoman for the first integrated all-black community, Eatonville, Florida. 31