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The Black (Harlem) Renaissance Start CICERO © 2010.

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1 The Black (Harlem) Renaissance Start CICERO © 2010

2 Background The Harlem or Black Renaissance was an African-American political and cultural movement that emerged after the close of World War I and continued for nearly two decades. Although often identified with the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, it was a national movement that showcased African-American achievement in literature, music, politics, dance, and the performing arts. End Palmer Hayden’s We Four in Paris

3 Factors That Contributed to the Spread of the Harlem Renaissance Historians generally highlight four factors that contributed to the growth of the movement. They include: – the large-scale migration of blacks out of the South that was known as the Great Migration – the rise of a new African- American educated elite – the New Negro Movement – an increase in white intellectual interest in African-American life and culture. End CICERO © 2010

4 The Great Migration An important precursor to the explosion of African-American culture known as the Black Renaissance was the Great Migration. In the period before and during the movement, hundreds of thousands of African Americans traveled to northern cities such as Harlem in the hope of establishing a better life. As a result, demographics in northern cities underwent significant changes. In 1910, for example, three out of every four African Americans resided on farms, and nine out of ten made their homes in the South. World War I dramatically altered these demographics. During the 1910s and 1920s, motivated by a desire to escape the economic and political inequities in the South, an estimated 1.5 million African- Americans migrated to northern cities. End CICERO © 2010

5 The Rise of a New African-American Educated Elite Another factor contributing to the Black Renaissance was the appearance of a new African- American educated elite. Especially in the North, new educational and employment opportunities spurred the appearance of an African-American middle class. Massachusetts-born scholar W.E.B. DuBois and Washington, D.C., native Mary Church Terrell are two examples of this new black intellectual elite. End W.E.B DuBois

6 The New Negro Movement Another contributing factor to the Black Renaissance was the New Negro Movement. African Americans evidenced a new racial consciousness through the New Negro Movement, and this new consciousness influenced the Black Renaissance. Howard University Professor Alain Locke described this transformation in a 1925 essay entitled “The New Negro.” This essay highlighted the new sense of assertiveness and independence among African Americans. Locke further charged that the “New Negro” needed to “smash” all of the racial, social, and psychological barriers that had hampered black achievement. End CICERO © 2010

7 Luminaries of the Harlem (Black) Renaissance End Alain Leroy Locke Zora Neale Hurston

8 Legacy of the Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance changed the way people perceived African- American culture. Its reverberations can still be felt. The literary works of the period continue to inspire writers and poets. The influence of the Harlem Renaissance was not limited to the United States. Famed musician and actor Paul Robeson and dancer Josephine Baker traveled to Europe where the influence of the Harlem Renaissance was strong. The Harlem Renaissance inspired many African Americans to believe they had a voice that could not be suppressed. End Langston Hughes

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