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The Harlem Renaissance

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The Harlem Renaissance

  1. 1. How has it been possible for America to remain racist, andat the same time allow very small steps of black progress?
  2. 2. The HarlemYork City, 1920s Harlem, New Renaissance
  3. 3. The Great Migration • Push and Pull Factors • Jim Crow, KKK, Lynching • Boll Weevil • War Jobs • Immigration Act 1924 • Mississippi Flood
  4. 4. Duke Ellington performed regularly here, and Ella Fitzgerald andBillie Holiday both launched their careers at the venue’s amateurnight.
  5. 5. From left to right: Poet Langston Hughes,sociologist Charles Spurgeon Johnson, historian E.Franklin Frazier, doctor and author Rudolph Fisher,and legislator Hubert Delaney.
  6. 6. UNIA Parade
  7. 7. Review all three pieces of literature, visual art, or music from the HarlemRenaissance. Then categorize each piece into one of the followingthemes:- African Heritage- Black Southern Folk Traditions- New African American Voice in the 20th Century
  8. 8. Claude McKay, If We Must DieJamaican-born Claude McKay is regarded as one of thegreatest Harlem Renaissance writers. He began publishingpoetry as a teenager and continued to publish bothpoetry and fiction for many years after moving to theUnited States. In 1919, while living in New York, hepublished “If We Must Die” in a Marxist literary magazinecalled The Liberator. In the poem, he urged blackAmericans to unite against the racism inflicted on themby the white population—insisting that, no matter theirfate, black Americans fight back.With this poem, McKay captured the spirit of theera and the ear of many African Americans. The poem—a blatant response to the violent race riots and lynchingsgoing on around the country in the years prior to itspublication was lauded for its vocal protestation againstracial injustice, for which McKay became well known. African Heritage?The poem represents the New African American Voice inthe Twentieth Century theme of the Harlem Renaissance. Black Southern Folk Traditions? New African American Voice in the 20th Century?
  9. 9. Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of RiversLangston Hughes is considered one of the most talented of theHarlem Renaissance writers. His poetry ranged from deeplymoving pieces that flushed with black pride to poems that toldstories about the lowliest walks of life. He also wrote novels, shortstories, experimental theater pieces, and an autobiography.In “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which Hughes dedicated to W.E.B. Du Bois, he drew on the long history of the black race with atone of pride and love. Hughes associated the “negro” of the titlewith the entire black race and traced its path through time,beginning with the emergence of human civilizations the first ofwhich arose along the Euphrates River. The Congo and Nile,Africa’s largest rivers, also served as life-givers for developingcultures, with the Nile and its pyramids bringing to mind one ofthe most revered of ancient cultures, Egypt.Finally, Hughes brings the race to the Mississippi River, whichevokes both the slavery the race suffered through and theemancipation from it (for it was while traveling down theMississippi to New Orleans that Abraham Lincoln is said to havefirst witnessed a slave auction). The poem represents theAfrican Heritage theme of the Harlem Renaissance. African Heritage? Black Southern Folk Traditions? New African American Voice in the 20th Century?
  10. 10. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston was one of the first female AfricanAmerican writers to win great acclaim and was also anearly black feminist author. She began her career inthe1920s, publishing short stories while also studying tobecome an anthropologist. She was a prominentmember of the Harlem Renaissance and worked withLangston Hughes and Wallace Thurman to publish afamous literary journal of the era, titled Fire!!Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God,written at the end of the Harlem Renaissance, reflectsthe era’s influence. Its setting in Florida and its use ofthe southern vernacular reveal Hurston’s attempts toshare on paper the lives of black southerners in theearly decades of the twentieth century. In the excerptgiven here, she describes life in the Everglades ofsouthern Florida as her main character, Janie, first seesit.Although criticized by some fellow black writersof the time for not focusing enough attention on thenegative aspects of African American life, many viewher portrayal of the South as the backdrop for Janie’s African Heritage?journey of self-discovery as an exemplary depiction ofthe real lives of American blacks. The excerpt Black Southern Folk Traditions?represents the Black Southern Folk Traditions theme of New African American Voice in thethe Harlem Renaissance. 20th Century?
  11. 11. An Idyll of Life in the Deep South, from Aspects of Negro Life series, Aaron Douglas, 1934 African Heritage? Black Southern Folk Traditions? New African American Voice in the 20th Century?
  12. 12. Fetiche et Fleurs (Fetish and Flowers), Palmer Hayden, 1926
  13. 13. Louis Armstrong, Hotter Than ThatLouis Armstrong’s impact on the development of jazzStyle, during the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, wastremendous. Among other influences, Armstrongpopularized a form of singing called scat. As can beheard in “Hotter Than That,” when scatting, Armstrongwould sing rhythmic syllables instead of words. Heinfused those syllables with so much emotion, rhyme,and cadence that they seemed to convey meaning aseasily as words would have.The exuberance of Armstrong’s singing in “HotterThan That” is notable. While a handful of ragtimesingers had sung scat before Armstrong did, its originindirectly goes back to Africa. African musical stylesinfluenced numerous aspects of jazz. Two of the mostrecognizable to the lay listener are the use of drumsand syncopated rhythms. As well, the use ofinstruments to emulate the human voice and the use ofthe human voice as an instrument—as in scat—werealso common elements of African musical performance.This song represents the African Heritage theme of theHarlem Renaissance. African Heritage? Black Southern Folk Traditions? New African American Voice in the 20th Century?
  14. 14. Duke Ellington, East St. Louis Toodle-ooDuke Ellington began his musical career during theHarlem Renaissance and continued to win high praisefrom listeners until his death some 50 years later. Hegained early acclaim for his ability to make music thatconjured a setting or image, including his “jungle” styleof music. The hallmark of this sound, which quicklybecame popular, was the muted trumpet that one canhear growling in the opening refrains of “East St. LouisToodle-oo.”While Ellington later said he intended this piece to capture themood of a man on his way home after a long day of labor,the jungle sound added a dark, mysterious element to thisand other songs. Ellington’s finesse at creating new soundsnot onlyexhibited his talents as a composer and band leader butalso helped him make a huge mark on jazz music.Born Edward Kennedy Ellington, he nicknamed himself TheDuke and espoused a sophisticated style that quickly becameassociated with his music. In numerous ways, Ellingtonhelped bring a new level of respect to the music and to theAfrican American musicians who performed it. African Heritage?This song represents the New African American Voice in the Black Southern Folk Traditions?Twentieth Century theme of the Harlem Renaissance. New African American Voice in the 20th Century?
  15. 15. Backwater Blues, Bessie SmithWhen it rains five days and the skies turn dark as nightWhen it rains five days and the skies turn dark as nightThen troubles takin place in the lowlands at nightI woke up this mornin, cant even get out of my doorI woke up this mornin, cant even get out of my doorTheres been enough trouble to make a poor girl wonder where she want to goThen they rowed a little boat about five miles cross the pondThen they rowed a little boat about five miles cross the pondI packed all my clothes, throwed them in and they rowed me alongWhen it thunders and lightnin and when the wind begins to blowWhen it thunders and lightnin and the wind begins to blowTheres thousands of people aint got no place to goThen I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hillThen I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hillThen looked down on the house were I used to liveBackwaterblues done call me to pack my things and goBackwater blues done call me to pack my things and go African Heritage?Cause my house fell down and I cant live there no more Black Southern Folk Traditions?Mmm, I cant move no more New African American Voice in theMmm, I cant move no more 20th Century?There aint no place for a poor old girl to go
  16. 16. Bessie Smith, Backwater BluesBlues singer Bessie Smith was one of the most successfulblack musicians of the 1920s. Born in Tennessee, she madefrequent visits to Harlem. There she performed regularly andrecorded some of the best-selling songs of the decade.In traditional southern blues, a singer focuses on portraying asoulful, true vision of the world in a way that will speak toothers. Smith sang a brand of music called vaudeville blues.This was similar to traditional blues but was accompanied byshowy entertainment and, in Smith’s case, some of the mosttalented known jazz musicians.Smith recorded numerous tracks with jazz greats LouisArmstrong and James P. Johnson. A skilled pianist, Johnsonprovided strong support for Smith’s rich, powerful voice in“Backwater Blues.” The song became perhaps her mostfamous. In it, Smith shows superb control over the range andintonation of her voice. As well, she exemplifies her ability torelay the strong emotions conjured by a song’s lyrics—which,in this case, discuss the sadness of losing one’s home toflooding waters. Indeed, Smith’s lyrics greatly contributedto her popularity; many African Americans lovedSmith’s ability to transform disheartening events from African Heritage?their lives into meaningful songs. Black Southern Folk Traditions?This song represents the Southern Black Folk Traditions New African American Voice in thetheme of the Harlem Renaissance. 20th Century?
  17. 17. James Van Der Zee, Dress Rehearsal #1, 1933