Harlem is a subdivision of New York City located in northern Manhattan
bordering on the Harlem and the East river. It was Dutch settlement
of Nieuw Harlem established by Peter Stuyvesant in 1658.
With the dream of making a better life for themselves, African Americans
during 1914-1918 migrated North from the rural South. Harlem was
a popular place to settle. As a result of this, Harlem became an
sophisticated artistic and literary center. "In his magazine
Crisis, W.E.B. Dubois urged racial pride among African Americans,
and writers, many living in Harlem, began producing fine original works
about African American life. Their work constituted a fresh, new
subject that attracted white readers and publishers."
This site dipicts the sequence of events during this period.
AFRICAN AMERICAN WRITERS AND POETS:
Langston Hughes 1902-1967 (Writer) HLB
reared by his grandmother in Lawrance, Kansas
inspired by grandmother to have a devotion to the cause of social justice
father migrated to Mexico
mother often away
bought a home in Harlem in 1947
read and wrote a lot because of loneliness
published his first poem while in high school
1921 Columbia University (one year)
his verse appeared regularly in Crisis (NAACP) and Opportunity
(National Urban League)
deliveryman/messman on ships to Africa and Europe
a pioneer in the fusion of traditional verse with black artistic forms
(blues and jazz)
1920-1930's leader in the Harlem Renaissance
1926 The Weary Blues
1927 Fine Clothes to the Jew
1942 Shakespeare in Harlem
1930 Not Without Laughter
1934 The Ways of White Folk (because of the Depression)
Essays, Plays, Magazines and News Papers
1930's radical verse and essays in (New Masses and International Literature
1930's Mulatto (most famous Play)
1932-1933 a year in Soviet Union
1940 The Big Sea (Autobiography)
1940's Chicago Defender (newspaper) this column attacked segregation
1940's Jesse B. Semple or "Simple" a comic strip but incisive
black urban Every man that ran for twenty years
1956 I Wonder As I Wander (another volume of autobiography)
1947 Broadway opera (Street Scene) with Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice
(several operas libretti)
1951 Montage of a Dream Deferred
Other Works- a dozen children books, several opera libretti,
four books translated from French and Spanish, two collections of stories,
another novel, a history of the NAACP. "Considered to be the most
widely recognized representative of African American writers and perhaps
the most original of black poets.
Alain Leroy Locke 1886-1954 (Writer) Jennifer
Locke's view: "Each culture group has its own identity and it is entitled
to protect and promote it."
Locke was born in Philadelphia on September 13, 1886.
Central High School
1904- Harvard University
1907-1910- Hertford College
1907-1910- Oxford University
1910-1911- University of Berlin
1918- Harvard University (Ph. D)
1912- Taught at Howard University for 41 years.
1953- Locke retired.
Founder of Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Howard University.
Architect of the New Negro Movement and the Harlem Renaissance.
The New Negro
The Negro in Art and When People Meet: A Study in Race and Cultural
This site will give you information on musicians and art of the Harlem
Jacob Lawrence (1917- ) Artist
Lawrence says that, "My paintings express my life and
experience." Lawrence married painter Gwendolyn
Knight in 1941. After retiring in 1983, Lawrence continues
to create major works and remains one of the few African-Americans to win
recognition as a major American artist. "Lawrence's distiguished
career has earned him a National Medal of Arts, election to the National
Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Acadamy of Design, a National
Council of the Arts commissionership, Guggenheim and Fullbright appointments,
and dozens of honorary degrees and awards, including the NAACP's Spingarn
Medal. His painting has been featured in several major retrospective
exhibitions and numerous one-person shows at many of America's most prestigious
museums" (The Reader's Companion to American History).
Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 7, 1917.
His parents were part of the Great Migration of Black Americans
(1916-1930). One million people left the rural South for the Urban
north during this period.
Moved with his family to Easton, Pennsylvania.
Parents separate, moves with mother to Philadelphia.
In 1927, mother moves to New York and places Lawrence and his siblings
in foster homes.
In 1930, Lawrence, age 13 and his brother and sister move to Harlem to
live with their mother. This period was the Depression, and people
had difficulty surviving. Lawrence worked to help support his family.
Takes art classes with Charles Alston at an after-school arts and crafts
program. By fifteen, he decides to be a painter.
In 1938, received a WPA Federal Writer's Project (later Federal Workers'
Project) assignment. This period was known as the Harlem Renaissance
because WPA trained artists, musicians, writers, and other creative artists.
In 1940, Lawrence received a fellowship from the Rosenwald Fund and he
started his Migration Series, sixty panels in all.
In 1941 at the age of twenty-four, he became the first African American
Artist included in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern
1940's-1960's lived in New York City.
At age forty-six, he begins printmaking.
In 1964, Lawrence visits Africa and starts his Nigerian Series (1964-1965).
In 1971, relocates to Seattle to teach at the University of Washington.
In 1983, retires as professor emeritus from the University of Washington.
Lawrence resides now in Seattle, Washington with his wife Gwendolyn.
One specific comment Lawrence made in regards to his Migration Series
was, "I don't think about this series in terms of history. I think
in terms of contemporary life. It was such a part of me I didn't
think of something outside....It was a portrait of myself, a portrait of
my family, a portrait of my peers....It was like a still life with bread,
a still life with flowers. It was like a landscape you see."
To visit a site where you can view some of Lawrence's works from the
Migration Series, click HERE.
Other African Americans Instrumental During This Period
1. Jean Toomer 1894-1967 (Writer)
2. Zora Neal Hurston 1891-1960 (Novelist, Folklorist, Anthropologist)
3. James Weldon Johnson (Writer, Diplomat, Civil Rights Leader)
4. Madame C. J. Walker (Entrepreneur)
Alain Leroy Locke.
Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (1994). University Press.
Licensed from and portions
(1995). by INSO Corporation
Encarta Schoolhouse The Harlem Renaissance. Microsoft. http://www.encarta.com/schoolhouse/Harlem/harlem.asp
Jacob Lawrence. http://www.chaos.com/learn/lawrence.html
Pal: Perspectives in American Literature. A Research and Reference
PBS Organization Newshour Forum February 1998
The Reader's Companion to American History Eric Foner and John
A. Garraty, Editors. (1995).
by INSO Corporation.
The San Antonio College LitWeb Harlem Renaissance Reference Page
Written by Tersa Bush, Jennifer Bolicher and Harry Lee Bowman
Edited by Mark Canada