The Harlem Renaissance (early 1920's to 1930's),
centered in the Harlem district of New York City.
The Harlem Renaissance had a profound influence
on both the US and the world.
Louis Armstrong •Through literature:
Eubie Blake Langston Hughes
Fats Waller Zora Neale Hurston
Billie Holiday W.E.B. DuBois
•Through theater: •Through dance:
Paul Robeson Josephine Baker
William H. Johnson
Lois Mailou Jones
“Our problem is to conceive, develop, establish
an art era. Not white art painting black...let's
bare our arms and plunge them deep through
laughter, through pain, through sorrow, through
hope, through disappointment, into the very
depths of the souls of our people and drag forth
material crude, rough, neglected. Then let's sing
it, dance it, write it, paint it. Let's do the
impossible. Let's create something
transcendentally material, mystically objective.
Earthy. Spiritually earthy. Dynamic."
- Aaron Douglas
“The Janitor Who Paints”
WILLIAM H. JOHNSON
“Aaron Douglas (1898-1979) was the
Harlem Renaissance artist whose work
best exemplified the philosophy.
He painted murals for public buildings;
he produced illustrations and cover designs
for many black publications,
including The Crisis and Opportunity.
In 1940, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee;
there he founded the Art Department at
Fisk University and taught for twenty nine years.”
Aaron Douglas, Idylls of the Deep South, 1934
Aaron Douglas, study for God's Trombones
“Between 1920-1930 an unprecedented outburst of creative activity
among African-Americans occurred in all fields of art.”
“Harlem attracted a prosperous and stylish black middle class
from which sprang an extraordinary artistic center…it embraced all art-forms,
including music, dance, film, theatre and cabaret.”
“Harlem nightlife, with its dance halls and jazz bands,
featured prominently in the work of these artists.”
“More than a literary movement and more than a social revolt against racism,
the Harlem Renaissance exalted the unique culture of African-Americans
and redefined African-American expression.
African-Americans were encouraged to celebrate their heritage
and to become "The New Negro,"
a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke.”
“One of the factors contributing to the rise of the Harlem Renaissance was the great
migration of African-Americans to northern cities (i.e. New York City, Chicago, Washington,
D.C.) between 1919 and 1926. In his influential book The New Negro (1925), Locke
described the northward migration of blacks as "something like a spiritual emancipation."