The Harlem Renaissance was a time of great creativity and innovation for African American writers, artists, and musicians. Renaissance means rebirth.
The Great Migration: Many African Americans moved from the South to the North in search of better opportunity.
They brought their culture with them .
Important Features of the H.R.
1. Harlem Renaissance is the name given to the period from the end of World War I through the middle of the 1930s Depression, during which a group of gifted African-American writers procuced a sizable body of literature.
The notion of “two-ness”, a divided awareness of one’s identity, was introduced by W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the author of the influential book The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
Common themes: alienation, marginality, the use of folk material, the use of the blues tradition, the problems of writing for an elite audience.
The HR was more than just a literary movement: in included racial consciousness, the “back to Africa” movement led by Marcus Garvey, racial integration, the explosion of music, especially jazz, spirituals, and blues, and visual and dramatic arts.
Blues and Jazz started gaining recognition.
The Apollo Theater is a famous theater in Harlem where musicians such as Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and James Brown got their starts.
During the height of the Harlem Renaissance African Americans were not allowed in the audience.
It was also a time of great literary recognition for African Americans, including:
Claude McKay (poetry)
Zora Neale Hurston (fiction)
W. E. B. DuBois (editor)
Langston Hughes (poetry, drama)
Zora Neale Hurston Literature
ART Aaron Douglas Jacob Lawrence Romare Bearon William Johnson
Cab Calloway at The Savoy in Harlem .
Langston Hughes and other writers..
Dancers at The Savoy.
Langston Hughes 1902-1967
Born in Joplin, Missouri.
Father moved to Mexico to escape racism in the USA.
Began writing poetry in high school.
1921 - Attended Columbia University in New York, supported for one year by his father.
Publishes some poetry in The Crisis , an NAACP magazine.
Becomes a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance.
Shown at left with Zora Neal Hurston and another writer from the time period in front of a statue of Booker T. Washington.
1926 - Publishes a volume of poems, The Weary Blues which contained poems meant to be read aloud to musical accompaniment in jazz clubs.
Hughes gained recognition when as a busboy in a restaurant he left his poems under the plate of a famous writer, Vachel Lindsay.
Like many artists in the 1920’s, he became interested in communism and traveled to Russia with other African Americans to perform.
Hailed as the “Negro Poet Laureate.”
We associate him with Harlem and the poetry of jazz and blues .
Hughes died in 1967.
THE WEARY BLUES by Langston Hughes 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 He made that poor piano moan with melody. O Blues! Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool He plays that sad raggy tune like a musical fool. Sweet Blues! Coming from a black man's soul. O Blues! In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan-- "Ain't got nobody in all this world, Ain't got nobody but ma self. I's gwine to quit ma frownin' And put ma troubles on the shelf." Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor. He played a few chords then he sang some more-- "I got the Weary Blues And I can't be satisfied. Got the Weary Blues And can't be satisfied-- I ain't happy no mo' And I wish that I had died." And far into the night he crooned that tune. The stars went out and so did the moon. The singer stopped playing and went to bed While the Weary Blues echoed through his head. He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.