Harlem Renaissance 

    The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's was a blossoming of African American literature, music, entertainment, and visual arts.  It was also an era in which a number of social and political organizations were formed in Harlem in an effort to improve the circumstances of African Americans.

    As the largest metropolis of black life in the urban North, Harlem was one of the focal points of black social, political, and cultural activities.  As a result of demographic shifts in New York City, Harlem became the mecca of black culture; it attracted black creative artists and intellectuals from other areas of the United States and the Caribbean..  For the most part, literary artists have been recognized as the most prominent exponents of black culture during the Harlem Renaissance.  They voiced the concerns of the "New Negro," including increased racial consciousness, social protest, and recognition of an African heritage. The cultural developments of the Harlem Renaissance were paralleled by similar movements in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other cities; the Harlem Renaissance thus symbolized the broader upsurge of black consciousness in the United States.

    Various social factors led to the rise of Harlem as a cultural center:  the migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North in the opening decades of the twentieth century, growing political protest, and an increase in the number of educated African Americans.

    The popularity of black creative expression in the arts coupled with the performance opportunities Harlem offered in its theaters, ballrooms, and nightclubs to make Harlem a center of the performing arts.  A wide variety of black men and women contributed to the Harlem Renaissance as political leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative artists.

Information taken from The African American Encyclopedia - Located in the Camille Stivers Shade Collection - John B. Cade Library.


Harlem Renaissance Writers


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