Harlem Renaissance Brief Background Presentation

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Harlem
Renaissance
1919-1940
Why Harlem?
● Great Migration - Exodus of 6 million African Americans from the
South to the North and West
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● Economic Opportunity & Housing
“Newcomers found grand avenues, broad
sidewalks, and finely constructed houses
that afforded blacks the chance to live in
housing stock far superior in quality to
anything available to them elsewhere in
the United States.” - Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Types of Art
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Writing - Drama, poetry, fiction
Music
Theatre & Film
Painting
Sculptures
Sports
Dance
Purpose of Writing
● Aimed to define and preserve the African-American
heritage
● Demonstrates individual and racial pride
● Protest oppression of African-Americans
● Sought to make other Americans aware of
African-American life/culture
● Defy stereotypes
“There is a need for a cultural renaissance among blacks that would prove the
genius of black America to the greater world, and especially to white Americans,
who presumably would be moved to treat blacks with greater justice and
compassion.” - W.E.B. DuBois
Style of Writing
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Black vernacular
Blending of jazz in poetry and art
Modernism
Mastery of old literary forms blended with innovation or a new
style
Names to Know
Ridgely Torrence (a white man) - Three Plays for a Negro Theatre
(1917)
James Weldon Johnson
Langston Hughes
Duke Ellington
Claude McKay
Zora Neale Hurston
Nella Larsen
Impact of Harlem Renaissance
● Political Impact - Precursor to the Civil Rights Movement
● Cultural Impact - Music, Dance, Fashion
● Cultural Pride - Culture becomes mainstream
“They’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed.”
Langston Hughes
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