Harlem Renaissance c.a. 1920-1935 Boll Weevil WWI James Reese Europe James Europe and his Band Philip Payton The fight I am making has got to be made sooner or later and I see no better time than now. —1905 My first opportunity came as a result of a dispute between two landlords in West 134th Street. To ‘get even’ one of them turned his house over to me to fill with colored tenants. I was successful in renting and managing this house, and after a time I was able to induce other landlords to... give me their houses to manage. Strivers’ Row James VanDerZee VanDerZee, Wedding Couple VanDerZee Portrait of a Lady Madame C.J. Walker A’Lelia Walker Bessie Smith Cotton Club advertisement Rent Party Posters If sweet mama is running Let your papa drink the wild, whisky And you are looking for a Let your mama drink the wine Do-right child, But you come to Cora’s and Just come around and linger. do the Georgia grind. W.E.B. DuBois Marcus Garvey Carl Van Vechten Claude McKay Langston Hughes Zora Neale Hurston Countee Cullen Alain Locke If We Must Die Zora Neale Hurston Sterling Brown The Nation (October 16, 1937) The dedication of the town’s first lamp and the community burial of an old mule are rich in humor but they are not cartoons. Many incidents are unusual, and there are narrative gaps in need of building up. Miss Hurston’s forte is the recording and the creation of folk-speech. . . . Though inclined to violence and not strictly conventional, her people are not naive primitives. About human needs and frailties they have the unabashed shrewdness of the Blues. Richard Wright, New Masses (October 5, 1937) Miss Hurston seems to have no desire whatsoever to move in the direction of serious fiction. . . . Miss Hurston voluntarily continues in her novel the tradition which was forced upon the Negro in the theater, that is, the minstrel technique that makes the ‘white folks’ laugh. Her characters eat and laugh and cry and work and kill; they swing like a pendulum eternally in that safe and narrow orbit in which America likes to see the Negro live: between laughter and tears. . . . The sensory sweep of her novel carries no theme, no message, no thought. In the main, her novel is not addressed to the Negro, but to a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she knows how to satisfy. Zora Neale Hurston I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. . . . No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife. To me, bitterness is the underarm odor of wishful weakness. It is the graceless acknowledgement of defeat. Langston Hughe s The Negro Speaks of Rivers Walt Whitman The little one sleeps in its cradle, I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand. The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill, I peeringly view them from the top. The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom, I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol has fallen. The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders, The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the ciank of the shod horses on the granite floor, The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls, The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd mobs, The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside borne to the hospital, The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall, The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his passage to the centre of the crowd, The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes, What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall sunstruck or in fits, What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and give birth to babes, What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls restrain'd by decorum, Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips, I mind them or the show or resonance of them---I come and I depart. Walt Whitman I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death. Robert Johnson Crossroads Blues I went to the crossroads, fell down on I believe to my soul now, po' Bob is my knees sinkin' down I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees You can run, you can run, tell my Asked the Lord above, have mercy friend Willie Brown now, save poor Bob if you please You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown Standin' at the crossroads, tried to That I got the crossroad blues this flag a ride mornin', Lord, baby I'm sinkin' Whee-hee, I tried to flag a ride down Didn't nobody seem to know me, everybody pass me by I went to the crossroad, mama, I looked east and west Standin' at the crossroads, risin’ sun I went to the crossroad, babe, I looked goin' down east and west Standin' at the crossroads baby, the Lord, I didn't have no sweet woman, risin' sun goin' down ooh well, babe, in my distress Bessie Smith, Empty Bed Blues • I woke up this morning with a awful When my bed get empty make me feel aching head awful mean and blue • I woke up this morning with a awful My springs are getting rusty, sleeping aching head single like I do • My new man had left me, just a room and a empty bed He give me a lesson that I never had before • Bought me a coffee grinder that's the When he got to teachin' me, from my best one I could find elbow down was sore • Bought me a coffee grinder that's the best one I could find He poured my first cabbage and he made • Oh he could grind my coffee, cause he it awful hot had a brand new grind When he put in the bacon, it overflowed the pot • He's a deep sea diver with a stroke that can't go wrong • When you git good lovin', never go and • He's a deep sea diver with a stroke spread the news that can't go wrong • Yes he'll doublecross you, and leave • He can stay at the bottom and his wind you with them empty bed blues holds out so long Bessie Smith Black Mountain blues Out in Black Mountain a child will smack your face I'm saying out on Black Mountain a child will smack your face The babies cryin' for liquor, and all the birds sing bass Well, those people in Black Mountain are mean as they can be And those people in Black Mountain are mean as they can be Now they uses gun powder just to sweeten up their tea Weary Blues Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play. Down on Lenox Avenue the other night By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light He did a lazy sway . . . He did a lazy sway . . . To the tune o’ those Weary Blues. With his ebony hands on each ivory key. O Blues! Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool. Sweet Blues! Coming from a black man’s soul. O Blues! Song for a Dark Girl Way Down South in Dixie (Break the heart of me) They hung my black young lover To a cross roads tree. Way Down South in Dixie (Bruised body high in air) I asked the white Lord Jesus What was the use of prayer. Way Down South in Dixie (Break the heart of me) Love is a naked shadow On a gnarled and naked tree. Bound No’th Blues Goin' down the road, Lawd, Hates to be lonely, Goin' down the road. Lawd, I hates to be sad. Down the road, Lawd, Says I hates to be lonely, Way, way down the road. Hates to be lonely an' sad, Got to find somebody But ever friend you finds seems To help me carry this load. Like they try to do you bad. Road's in front o' me, Road, road, road, O! Road, road ... road ... road, Nothin' to do but walk. road! Road's in front o' me, Road, road, road, O! Walk ... an' walk ... an' walk. On the no'thern road. I'd like to meet a good friend These Mississippi towns ain't To come along an' talk. Fit fer a hoppin' toad.