Harlem Renaissance Sophie Browning

The Harlem Renaissance, spanning from 1920-1930, was artistic, intellectual and literary movement in which African American culture flourished, highlighting cultural identity and values. Harlem became the center of social and economic explosion for African Americans. The city attracted artists, writers, poets, musicians, scholars and photographers.


Starting in 1916 six million African Americans fled from their oppressed lives in the South. This sparked a mass migration of African Americans to northern urban cities, in which opportunity was greater and equality easier found.

A group of Florida migrants on their way to New Jersey.
Several hundred African Americans fleeing from Selma, Alabama to escape the cruelties of the Jim Crow Laws

The Cotton Club was opened by a white "gangster" who orginally planned for only whites to enter and enjoy themselves. However, with more frequent performances of African American jazz groups. The owner became open to both blacks and whites entering. The Cotton Club became a place where African Americans could express themselves and show off their talents. It served as one of the first "hangout" places where many Americans came to stay entertained and have fun.

Langston Hughes was an African American poet, novelist and play writer, using jazz rhythms and dialects to illustrate the life of urban blacks in his work.

"Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly."

"Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed - Let it be that great strong land love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above"

"I'm so tired of waiting, aren't you, for the world to become good and beautiful and kind?"

Zora Neale Hurston was an African American novelist, short-story writer and folklorist who provided a feminist voice to the Harlem Renaissance. She showed the world how freedom in a black-dominated place like Harlem highlighted the culture of sophisticated young African American individuals and their capabilities.

A novel that follows the hardships of a young black girl living in an urban society, battling racial comments and fighting for civil rights.

"If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it."

Zora Hurston, was one of the most powerful writers that the Harlem Renaissance saw. She did not sit silent in her suffering, she exposed white superiority, describing the trauma of Southern oppression.

This propaganda exemplifies the rush of African Americans to Harlem.

The Harlem Renaissance allowed African Americans to freely express their talents. Racial pride surged through Harlem. People described the movement as the "New Negro" in which blacks protested for civil and political rights. As African Americans stepped into the light of jazz and dance, speakeasies attracted both white and black, connecting both races with entertainment was the first step to equality. The Harlem Renaissance reienforced African American dignity, and blacks started to modernize their culture. The craze of urbanization gave African Americans greater job opportunity. The city of Harlem broke the stereotypes of the "poorly educated negro". Blacks became highly educated and dived into the literary world. Famous authors like Langston Hughes and Zora Hurston expressed the hardships and oppression African Americans experience.

The New Negro Movement pressured white folks of the United States to end discrimination. The new installed self-confidence of being an African American rejected segregational comments. The all black art exhibits helped gain more widespread recognition. These racial empowerment movements and talents were the gas of the Harlem Renaissance. The United States no longer lived upon the spontaneous innovations of the white man, now both races served towards the economic and social growth of the country. However there were negative aspects of the Renaissance, as African Americans created a new image for themselves they drifted farther and farther from their heritage and traditions. The brakes of Harlem during the 1920's was the loss of African values and a new shift in culture to blend in with the white rules of society. The adoption of white customs split black peoples into those who wanted to change and those who didn't.

Remembered as a time of literary inspiration, musical innovation, intellectual enlightenment, and social justice, the Harlem Renaissance was one of the biggest movements for African American peoples. The rebirth of black art and culture in the city of Harlem New York forever changed the undermining of negros. White superiority was challenged by the new fourth coming capability of African Americans. This time in history should be recognized as the fight for equality, not through violence but through words, music, dancing and artwork.

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