The HARLEM RENAISSANCE
The Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro Movement, was a period of great creativity in African-American art, literature, music, and performing arts. In the 1920's and 1930's Black artists, writers, musicians, and performers gathered in Harlem, New York, the center of Black culture at the time. They sought to change stereotypes and commonly held ideas about African-Americans, to preserve their African heritage, and to share aspects of their culture.
The Harlem Renaissance began shortly after World War I. With the industrial opportunities provided by WWI, increasing numbers of Blacks left the rural agricultural South for the cities in the North in search of employment. In addition, Black veterans who had defended the United States and its allies expected equality when they returned to the U.S. Black communities developed in cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, as well as New York. The Harlem Renaissance inspired racial pride and left a rich cultural legacy and heightened social consciousness.
Notable writers included Gwendolyn Bennett, Arna Bontemps, Countee Cullen, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay, Wallace Henry Thurman, and Jean Toomer. The performances of musicians Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Chick Webb, and Eubie Blake, and singer Marian Anderson, actor Paul Robeson, and dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson continue to be enjoyed today.
The Great Depression ended the Harlem
Renaissance, as writers and artists left Harlem and took other
jobs out of economic necessity. The
roots of the Civil Rights movement can be traced to the Black unity,
confidence, and independence that developed in the Harlem Renaissance.
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