Presentation on theme: "THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE. The Harlem Renaissance African-American writers, thinkers and artists made their first powerful contribution to American culture."— Presentation transcript:
The Harlem Renaissance African-American writers, thinkers and artists made their first powerful contribution to American culture. Period from the end of World War I (1918) and through the middle of the 1930’s Depression.
Prior to 1914 most African Americans remained in the South (nearly fifty years after the Civil War!) –Plenty of reasons for blacks to leave the South, but little economic advantage to moving north. World War I changes this: –1) war generates new opportunities for industry –2) much of existing labor supply leaves work force –3) immigrant labor pool evaporates. SOUTHERN BLACKS AND THE LURE OF THE NORTH
The Great Migration approx. 1 million African Americans involved in Great Migration Black populations moved to northern cities like Chicago and New York In New York, city blacks moved to the upper west side, in Harlem. In Chicago, they moved to the South side.
Economic gains are real, but limits are frustrating +Labor saving devices and shorter working hours gave AA more leisure time +Higher wages gave AA money to spend on leisure activities. -Rising racism leads to strict segregation that causes overcrowding, run-down conditions, and artificially high rents. THE NORTH AS PROMISED LAND AND LAND OF BROKEN PROMISES
Music of the HR Bessie Smith Duke Ellington Louis Armstrong Cab Calloway
Music of the Harlem renaissance – The Jazz Age The traditional jazz band was composed primarily of brass instruments and was considered a symbol of the south The piano was considered an instrument of the wealthy Jazz of the Harlem Renaissance added Piano to the existing genre to create a new style that blurred the lines between poor and socially elite AA’s. This musical style became more and more attractive to whites. Notes: write this down
Music of the HR Jazz combined African Rhythms, blues and Ragtime to produce a new sound Jazz spread from its birthplace in New Orleans to other parts of the country and made its way into the nightclubs of Harlem Why it matters: Much of today’s popular culture had its origins in the Jazz age ( and the Harlem renaissance)
Important Features of the HR It became a symbol of new vitality, Black urbanity, and Black militancy. It encouraged a new appreciation of African American folk roots and culture. This provided a rich source for racial imagination. Led to immense contributions by African Americans to the arts; music, painting and literature. Common subjects/themes: alienation, marginality, race relations, racism, spirituality, community
Why did the Harlem Renaissance End? HR ended because the central ideas had been exhausted by the mid 1930s. Depression meant there was less leisure time and money for both African Americans and whites—no more white patronage to clubs in Harlem There were only so many poems and short stories to be written about "what it means to feel black like me" and "what does Africa mean to me?” Artists began to focus on their “class” position rather than their ethnic or racial specialness.