- Slides: 28
What It Was • Harlem Renaissance – A flowering of African American art, literature, music and culture in the United States led primarily by the African American community based in Harlem, New York City.
Harlem was not so much a place as a state of mind, the cultural metaphor for black America itself. ”
When It Occurred • Beginning: – 1924 Opportunity magazine hosted a party for black writers with many white publishers attending • Ending: – 1929, the year of the stock market crash and the resulting economic Great Depression.
• The Harlem Renaissance, known also as the New Negro Movement and the Negro Renaissance, was an important cultural manifestation of the mid-twenties and thirties. • With Harlem as its center, the Renaissance was an upsurge of new racial attitudes and ideals on the part of Afro-Americans and an artistic and political awakening. • It was partly inspired by the iconoclastic spirit of the times. • The Harlem writers and artists were, like their Modernist white counterparts, in quest of new forms, images, and techniques. • They, too, were skeptical and disillusioned. • What chiefly differentiated them, however, was their view of artistic endeavor as an extension of the struggle against oppression
Historical Roots The historical roots of the Harlem Renaissance are complex. In part, they lay in the vast migration of African Americans to northern industrial centers that began early in the century and increased rapidly as World War I production needs and labor shortages boosted job opportunities. In addition to industrial jobs in northern cities, World War I offered blacks the opportunity to serve in the military, although in segregated military units.
Who? • Many of these people were part of the Great Migration out of the South and other racially stratified communities ;
Between 1910 and 1930, the African American population in the North rose by about 20 percent overall. Cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Cleveland had some of the biggest increases.
Factors behind the Great Migration • Avoid the racial segregation of Jim Crow laws in the South • Boll weevil infestation in Southern cotton in the late 1910 s forced people to search for other work • Blacks could take the service jobs that new white factory workers had vacated; • The Immigration Act of 1924 stopped European immigrants, causing a shortage of factory workers; • The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 displaced thousands of African-American farm workers.
Effects of the Harlem Renaissance • Music • Literature • Art
Music • Jazz – Brass and woodwind instruments with trumpets, trombones and saxophones playing lead parts – Characterized by intricate leads and accidentals – Complex chords, syncopated rhythms – Improvised solos
Music • Big Band or Swing – No microphones meant that musicians increased band size to increase sound – Used composers and arrangers – Little room for improvisation
Notable Musicians http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=8 mq 4 UT 4 Vnb. E
Influences on Literary Phase Against the background of increasingly artistic activity, three events occurred between 1924 and 1926 that launched the already developing literary phase of the Harlem Renaissance into the forefront: 1. Charles S. Johnson’s Civic Club dinner, which forged the link among three major players in the literary renaissance: the black literary-political intelligentsia, white publishers and critics, and young black writers. 2. The publication in 1926 of Nigger Heaven, by white novelist Carl Van Vechten. This book was a spectacularly popular expose of Harlem life and helped create the “Negro Vogue” that drew thousands of sophisticated New Yorkers to Harlem’s exotic nightlife. 3. The publication of the literary magazine FIRE!! A group of talented young black writers were spearheaded by Wallace Thurman. These artists were declaring their intent to assume ownership of the literary renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance incorporated all aspects of African American culture in its literature and several themes emerged.
Common themes of the Harlem Renaissance include the following: alienation marginality folk material the blues tradition and the problem of writing for and elite audience.
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.
Notable Writers Langston Hughes Countee Cullen Zora Neale Hurston
Notable Artists Self Portrait with Bandana, William Johnson
Dust to Dust, Jacob Lawrence
Blues, Archibald Motley, Jr.
http: //www. history. com/topics/harlem-renaissance/videos#theharlem-renaissance-an-artistic-explosion
Why Did the Harlem Renaissance End? • The Great Depression • The Migration tones down and communities settled • Fundamentalists cursed the devil’s music and art • It didn’t…it evolved – Rock & Roll, Motown, Hip Hop, Rap – Commercialization, Elvis, Gershwin, Sinatra
Legacy of the Harlem Renaissance • Paradox: art as a release of, and contributor to tensions • The white audience • Glorification & sophistication of African-American life and culture • A perplexing sense of optimism in the HR art • Black Pride and The Civil Rights Movement • An International Phenomenon