Friday, February 26, 2010

You Think You Know but You Have No Idea

I found a really amazing Harlem Renaissance timeline that outlines the key events between 1890 and 1935.

Some amazing tidbits that sparked my interest (and hopefully will spark yours):

1. In the years following and during the Harlem Renaissance, 2 million African Americans had migrated from southern states to those in the North in search of a better life. The South was plagued with ongoing discrimination, so they looked to the North almost as we look to West now: "Land of opportunities."

2. In 1917, around 15,0000 African Americans went on a silent protest, marching down the famous Fifth Avenue to stand up against hate-crimes against Blacks.

3. The "Red Summer of Hate" was occuring at this time, as African Americans responded with hostility towards lynchings and other hate crimes. The race riots occurred in 24 major cities, including Chicago and DC.

4. Shuffle Along opens on Broadway in 1921, including large, vivid musical numbers and singing. Many believed this sparked the Harlem Renaissance.

5. In 1933 the Works Project Administration was founded by Harlem Renaissance artists and writers to give African Americans work opportunities (government-sponsered!).

I think looking at the timeline, its truly amazing to see how active African Americans were at this time, and how they no longer remained passive as they had for so long before. These events on the timeline are truly inspirational, and provide a great basis for the poems and works that we have read in class thus far!


  1. Remember that the New Negro Renaissance largely created the (first major) market for African American literature.

  2. I really enjoy this timeline you found! It really helps put everything in perspective and a lot of the writings and works in order. In the past, I've hardly been taught the New Negro literary movement alongside the historical events of the time. It just makes you wonder how much their literature is a product of their environment. I personally think it's all great either way.

  3. I find the first point about 2 million blacks migrating to the north in search of the "land of opportunity" to be very interesting. I never really considered how much the north would've appealed to blacks in the south. I guess that's probably because I've been focusing so much on Jean Toomer's Cane, where he writes about the beauty of southern folklife and contrasts it with harsher city life. It makes me wonder if being a New Negro writer is very different from being a New Negro. Is it the act of writing that makes some lament and others look forward? Or maybe people just handle beginnings differently. Some look forward to the north, the land of opportunity, while others look back at what used to be.

  4. I remember reading about Shuffle Along, but didn't catch onto its significance until now. Seeing how it was one of the landmark works of the New Negro Movement really puts everything into perspective. I guess it really legitimized African-American theater and placed them into roles outside of shoddy, burlesque parts. I understand why they would say it is a significant work, even calling it a harbinger of a strong movement.

  5. The only writer from the Harlem Renaissance that I remember learning about before college was Langston Hughes. This wasn't even in high was in like 4th grade or something. Am I in the total minority due to being a business major, or has this movement become taught more and more in classes?

    Thanks for posting this. Very good background information.

  6. I too wasn't really taught much about the Harlem Renaissance before college. I remember reading Their Eyes Were Watching God in high school, but I think that's about it. If we did study it we certainly didn't go into depth.

    Maybe teaching these writings has become more popular with the extreme recent growth of other races in America like the Latin American and even Asian American populations. Perhaps we could someday begin undergoing another "renaissance" for a different race in the country?