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The Voices and Art that Shaped the Harlem Renaissance

Using information collected from your sources, define what happened during the Harlem Renaissance, and describe some of the important literary, musical, and artistic contributions that were created during that time.

Clarifying Questions

  • What is meant by the term "Harlem Renaissance"?


  • New Negro: a term referring to the sense of self-pride and positive cultural affirmation that emerged during the 1920s; it emerged in contrast to the "Old Negro," which reflected stereotypical notions of accommodation, passivity, and lack of education.
  • Great Migration: the wide-scale migration of African Americans from the South to such northern communities as Chicago and New York during the late 1910s to around 1921 and later from the 1940s to 1970.
  • Alain Locke: philosopher and intellectual who redefined concepts of African American identity in a positive, culturally uplifting manner in the mid 1920s and is known widely as the father of the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Meta Warrick Fuller: a prolific sculptor during the Harlem Renaissance, Meta Warrick Fuller frequently captured scenes from everyday African American life.
  • jazz: a musical genre blending West African and European musical traditions, notably the African American forms of ragtime, minstrelsy, and the blues; it also incorporates complex rhythms and improvisational style.
  • Big band swing music: music popular from 1930 to 1945, led by a bandleader with the band broken into notable sections (e.g. trumpets, saxophones, trombones) that interact with each other.
  • speakeasy: a secret bar or night club during the period of Prohibition (1920–1933) when alcohol was outlawed.

Background Information

In the early part of the 20th century, African Americans left the South in significant numbers, fleeing poverty and persecution as a result of Jim Crow legislation and social interactions. Jim Crow stripped away the rights of African Americans through segregation in every aspect of life—school, public accommodations, and housing; it also brought a reign of terror from such groups as the Ku Klux Klan. This movement of African Americans was known as the Great Migration.

One locale where African Americans moored themselves was in Harlem, a neighborhood of New York City. By the 1920s, Harlem had become a geographical center for African Americans and a place to assert their African American identity and heritage. The Harlem Renaissance is known as a period of unprecedented artistic production in such areas as literature, music, and visual art.

MLA Citation

"The Voices and Art That Shaped the Harlem Renaissance." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Display/2235836?cid=272. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Entry ID: 2235836

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