Blacks in Transition

Blacks in Transition

Blacks in Transition: 1920’s to 1930’s

A) Discuss the Harlem Renaissance of 1920’s

In researching the Harlem Renaissance, I came across the interesting fact of how it got its name. It was named after the anthology The New Negro which was complied and edited by Alain Locke and which contained numerous paintings and illustrations by artist Winold Reiss. To emphasize the importance of this book and the movement, I offer this quote from the text of the book itself. "Harlem as a site of the black cultural sublime was invented by writers and artists determined to transform the stereotypical image of Negro Americans at the turn of the century away from their popular image as ex-slaves, as members of a race inherently inferior inferior - biologically and environmentally unfitted for mechanized modernity and its cosmopolitan forms of fluid identity - into an image of a race of cultural bearers. To effect this transformation, a 'New Negro' was called for - quite urgently, many black intellectuals felt- and this New Negro would need a nation over which to preside. And that nation's capital would be Harlem, that realm north of Central Park, centered between 130th Street and 145th."[1]

The Renaissance itself was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City and quickly spread to impact urban centers all throughout the United States. Across the cultural spectrum (literature, drama, music, visual art, dance) and also in the realm of social thought (sociology, historiography, philosophy), artists and intellectuals found new ways to explore the historical experiences of black America and the contemporary experiences of black life in the urban north.

African Americans took up the movement by rejecting merely imitating the styles of Europeans and white American artists, authors, and philosphical thinkers by challenging white paternalism and racism by instead celebrating and embracing their own black dignity and creativity.

Historians disagree as to when...

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