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The Harlem Renaissance was the Golden Age of African-American culture in the United States, which occurred in the 1920s until the early 1930s. After WWI, African-Americans from farmlands began to migrate to the cities, like Harlem in New York, to seek new opportunities. The movement coincided with the Jazz Age, which revolutionized African-American music.
See the fact file below for more information on the Harlem Renaissance or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Harlem Renaissance worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
African-Americans’ Great Migration
- In the 1880s, the district of Harlem, located in northern Manhattan, New York, was an upper-class white neighborhood. Its massive development led to the establishment of many buildings.
- Between 1917 and 1970, enormous African-American populations from the south migrated to the north, seeking new opportunities. This became known as the Great Migration.
- A number of middle-class black families from Bohemia moved to Harlem after World War I. Many African-Americans followed them and began to populate the area. At first, the white population of Harlem protested to keep African-Americans out of the neighborhood, but they failed and chose to leave the area.
- Moreover, northerners began to recruit African-Americans from the south to work in manufacturing industries during the war. By 1920, over 300 000 black families migrated to the north and densely populated the district of Harlem.
- By the 1930s, an estimated 1.6 million migrants were living in the north.
Beginning of Harlem Renaissance
- The Harlem Renaissance period emerged after WWI, from the Great Migration until the Great Depression. It was a time when African-Americans developed and embraced their own literature, music, theatre, visual arts and the negro movement. Historians suggest that this era marked the rebirth and a new beginning for African-Americans in the United States. They chose to create their own culture based on their roots and not to copy white American styles.
- It was also an era when African-Americans began to seek social and economic equality, following the end of slavery. Civil rights activists like Alain Leroy Locke, W.E.B. Du Bois, Madam C.J. Walker and Langston Hughes all became leaders for African-Americans.
The New Negro Movement
- Aside from Alain LeRoy Locke, the father of the Harlem Renaissance, many political leaders took pride in and helped establish the Civil Rights Movement. Among them were Marcus Garvey, Oscar DePriest, A. Philip Randolph, Madam C.J. Walker, Walter White, James Weldon Johnson, and W.E.B. Du Bois.
- Elimination of racial discrimination and desegregation were among the aims of the National Association of the Advancement of the Colored People or NAACP.
- To promote Black Nationalism, Marcus Garvey established the Universal Negro Improvement Association. It also advocated self reliance and separation from white society. Moreover, Garvey thought the “back to Africa” idea would be a better deal for them. Despite his clashes with other Harlem Renaissance intellectuals, Garvey awakened the sense of pride among African-Americans.
The Jazz Age: Music and Dance
- Among the trademarks of the Harlem Renaissance was the emergence of jazz music. Jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Count Basie, Fats Waller and Dizzy Gillespie became famous.
- The term “Jazz Age” was first coined by author F. Scott Fitzgerald in describing the “anything goes” era of the 1920s. Jazz music was characterized by improvisation, strong and lively rhythm, as well as syncopation.
- The Harlem Renaissance brought genres like Blues, Ragtime, Dixie and Jazz to the African-American population. New dances such as Charleston, the Black Bottom, the Shimmy, Cakewalk, the Bunny hop, Turkey trot, the Lindy hop and American tango also emerged.
- The Cotton Club was a whites-only nightclub in Harlem, which became the most famous hang-out place in the 1920s. It became a venue for all sorts of African-American performances.
Harlem Renaissance: Visual Art
- It was in the 1920s that new art movements like Surrealism, Impressionism and Art Deco flourished.
- The New Negro philosophy was expressed through painting, sculpture, murals, photographs, magazine covers and illustrations.
- Among the famous artists during this era were Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Palmer C. Hayden, Meta Fuller, Augusta Savage, Charles Alston and Lois Mailou Jones.
Harlem Renaissance: Literature
- In 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald published his novel The Great Gatsby, which exposed the excesses of American consumerism regardless of color. Also in this era, Langston Hughes became known as the Poet Laureate of Harlem who wrote poems like The Negro Speaks of Rivers, The Weary Blues, and I too. Most of his works speak about discrimination of African-Americans and the idea of standing up and taking pride in their heritage. Most of the African-American writers depicted traditional characters yet realistic situations, which reflected their heritage, style, character and history.
- “…My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen it’s muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset…”
Excerpt from The Negro Speaks of Rivers, 1921
- During the Harlem Renaissance, four major publications dominated the era, including The Messenger, a radical magazine for African-Americans; The Crisis, which was the official publication of NAACP; The Negro World, a weekly magazine published by UNIA, and The Opportunity, that wrote about cultural advancement in Harlem.
- The Harlem Renaissance also saw numerous books published, including Home to Harlem by Claude McKay, The Walls of Jericho by Rudolph Fisher, Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes, Black No More by George Schuyler, and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
Fashion and Sports
- Men popularized the Zoot Suit, known for its loose-fitting trousers. For women, celebrities like Josephine Baker and Bessie Smith influenced fashion through the flappers.
- In the 1920s, sports like basketball, boxing and baseball reached its new heights in Harlem. In 1923, the Harlem Rens, an all-black professional basketball team was formed. Joe Lewis became known as the Brown Bomber in the field of heavyweight boxing.
Harlem Renaissance Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Harlem Renaissance across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Harlem Renaissance worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Harlem Renaissance which was the Golden Age of African-American culture in the United States, which occurred in the 1920s until the early 1930s. After WWI, African-Americans from farmlands began to migrate to the cities, like Harlem in New York, to seek new opportunities. The movement coincided with the Jazz Age, which revolutionized African-American music.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Harlem Renaissance Facts
- Prominent Harlem Figures
- Harlem Renaissance Ws
- Looking at Black History
- Crazy Craze
- Legacy of Jazz
- The Great Migration
- Poetry Inference
- Harlem in Writing
- Harlem Visual Art
- Salute to Harlem Hellfighters
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Link will appear as Harlem Renaissance Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 26, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
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