Migrants settled in Harlem, manhattan making it the largest Negro city in America and a center of cultural expression. Alain Locke is regarded as the father of the Harlem Renaissance as he was the dean, conceiver and editor of “The New Negro” in 1925 that summed up the essence of the movement. Other archictects included Charles S Johnson (editor opportunity magazine) and Jessie Fauset (editor of Crisis magazine). It drew artists from all walks of life both old and young including W.E.B.Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Bruce Nugent, Zora Neale Hurston, Arna Bontemps, Wallace Thurman, Nella Larsen, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer and Kelly Miller among others. Also important were musicians Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. This paper will discuss the Harlem Renaissance highlighting its architects and their vision as well as the artists that helped revolutionalize the African American culture.
Harlem Renaissance originated in Harlem the largest Negro city in America after the Great Migration from rural South to Urban North in 1890 as well as the First World War. The population in this area included Africans, West Indians and Negro Americans but they all had experienced white supremacy through civil war and Reconstruction that ended in 1877 and the Jim Crow laws of segregation in the South. Those who moved to North were looking for opportunities as in the South they were disenfranchised, had no land hence turned to sharecroppers with endless debts, increased social terrorism. WWI also shut off Foreign migration hence increasing labor demand for Blacks in the North (Ushistory.org, nap). Though with multiple motives, believes and objectives, the communities joined hands to demand for a fuller and truer self-expression. In the words of Locke, “let Negro speak for himself” hence democracy in the American culture (10). By being known for what they are, the Harlem groups would gain race pride.