Harlem Renaissance Guiding Question: How can we stake a claim in our own identity?
The Time Period 1920s-1930s Centered in the Harlem Neighborhood of New York CityThe first time that publishers and producers took seriously African American Literature, music and other art forms
BeginningsAfter the civil war, African Americans were allowed to obtain an education and thus a larger African American middle class was born. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans moved from the agricultural south to the industrial cities of the north.Proximity to each other allowed culture to flourishThey developed a political and social agenda
DebatesThe Harlem Renaissance allowed African Americans to celebrate their culture and to work for advancement but there were huge debates as to how to best accomplish this.
W.E.B. Dubois vs. Booker T. WashingtonW.E.B. Dubois, a famous sociologist from NY, NY argued that African Americans should celebrate the uniqueness of their culture, art and thought in his work The Souls of Black Folk Booker T. Washington, on the other hand, believed that full assimilation would be key to advancement. Meaning, that African Americans should try to become part of white culture. He founded Tulane University.
What do you think?In order to gain advancement should minorities celebrate their uniqueness or should they try to be more like the dominant group?
Same Debate, Different EraMalcolm X vs. MLK
Famous Members of the Harlem RenaissanceLangston HughesZora Neale HurstonW.E.B. DuboisMarcus Gavey (Back to Africa Movement)Claude McKayLouis ArmstrongBessie SmithRichard WrightCountee Cullen (artist)
Harlem Renaissance Watch Clip from Video
Langston Hughes(February 1, 1902 - May 22, 1967) Born in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes began writing poetry in the eighth grade, and was selected as Class Poet. His father didn't think he would be able to make a living at writing, and encouraged him to pursue a more practical career. He paid his son's tuition to Columbia University on the grounds he study engineering. After a short time, Langston dropped out of the program with a B+ average; all the while he continued writing poetry. His first published poem was also one of his most famous, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Later, his poems, short plays, essays and short stories appeared in the NAACP publication Crisis Magazine and in Opportunity Magazine and other publications.
The Great DebatersWatch a Langston Hughes Poem read by Denzel Washington.
Richard WrightIn 1927, after years of family movements through the American South, Wright moved from Memphis to Chicago, where he would soon go to work in the post office, an experience he used in his novel Lawd Today!. In the early thirties, he began his literary career publishing poetry and short stories in such magazines as Left Front, Anvil, and New Masses. The success of Uncle Tom's Children in 1938 and Native Son in 1940 propelled Wright to international fame. In 1947, in reaction to the continued racism he encountered in America, Wright decided to move to France for an indefinite period.
Louis ArmstrongLouis Armstrong was the greatest of all Jazz musicians. His amazing technical abilities, the joy and spontaneity, and amazingly quick, inventive musical mind still dominate Jazz to this day. Like almost all early Jazz musicians, Louis was from New Orleans. He was from a very poor family and was sent to reform school when he was twelve after firing a gun in the air on New Year's Eve. At the school he learned to play cornet. After being released at age fourteen, he worked selling papers, unloading boats, and selling coal from a cart. He didn't own an instrument at this time, but continued to listen to bands at clubs like the Funky Butt Hall!
Jelly Roll MortonJelly Roll Morton was the first great composer and piano player of Jazz. He was a talented arranger who wrote special scores that took advantage of the three-minute limitations of the 78 rpm records. But more than all these things, he was a real character whose spirit shines brightly through history, like his diamond studded smile. As a teenager Jelly Roll Morton worked in the whorehouses of Storyville as a piano player. From 1904 to 1917 Jelly Roll rambled around the South. He worked as a gambler, pool shark, pimp, vaudeville comedian and as a pianist. He was an important transitional figure between ragtime and jazz piano styles.
Bessie SmithBessie Smith was a rough, crude, violent woman. She was also the greatest of the classic Blues singers of the 1920s. Bessie started out as a street musician in Chattanooga. In 1912 Bessie joined a traveling show as a dancer and singer. The show featured Pa and Ma Rainey, and Smith developed a friendship with Ma. Ma Rainey was Bessie's mentor and she stayed with her show until 1915. Bessie then joined the T.O.B.A. vaudeville circuit and gradually built up her own following in the south and along the eastern seaboard. By the early 1920s she was one of the most popular Blues singers in vaudeville.
What the Art History Textbooks say:It is certainly an era that African-Americans can be proud of and a time when a once severely oppressed people, began to expect more from life. They became more vocal and expressive about the state of their affairs. They took charge of adding flair and joviality to their lifestyle.
Their Eyes Were Watching GodLook at pages 34-45 in the book. What do you notice about the way that the book is written?
Dialectis a variety of a language that is characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class. Sometimes in stories authors use dialects to make a character stand out. An adjective which can be used is VERNACULAR.
Why use dialect?Why would Zora Neale Hurston, a member of the Harlem Renaissance, use original dialect in her dialogue of African American characters? Why wouldnt she just write it out in plain English language?
What is your Dialect?IDK, my BFF needs to call me back. We were LOL when were chill-axing. Write your own:
ValueWhat is proper English? What is the value of knowing proper English?What is the value of using proper English? Why dont we value slang? Should we value slang?
Who is Zora Neale Hurston?Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God over seven weeks in Haiti. The novel was published in 1937. Though the novel was written while abroad, Hurstons home base was actually New York, where she played a prominent role in what we now call the Harlem Renaissance AnthropologistFolkloristWriter
Autobiographical? People argue (as with most womens literature) that the story is autobiographicalit uses aspects of Zoras life in Janies life. Possible, but remember that her whole intention was to depict African American life in a positive light (to celebrate the culture and people).Hurston married and divorced three husbands and, at age forty-four, fell in love with twenty-three-year-old Percy Punter. When he asked her to forsake her career to marry him, she refused because she "had things clawing inside [her] that must be said." She wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, trying in its pages "to embalm all the tenderness of [her] passion for him."