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Harlem Renaissance

Era: 1920s - 1930s

Related: black pride - Jazz Age - Négritude

"The New Negro Has No Fear." Supporters of Marcus Garvey parade in Harlem during a 1920 U.N.I.A. convention.
Image sourced here.

Harlem, Mecca of the New Negro (March 1925)
Image sourced here.

Black Swan records was the first record label to be owned and operated by, and marketed to, African Americans
Image sourced here.


The Harlem Renaissance was a flowering of African-American social thought and culture based in the African-American community forming in Harlem in New York City (USA). This period, extending from roughly 1920 to 1940, was expressed through every cultural medium—visual art, dance, music, theatre, literature, poetry, history and politics. Instead of using direct political means, African-American artists, writers, and musicians employed culture to work for goals of civil rights and equality. Its lasting legacy is that for the first time (and across racial lines), African-American paintings, writings, and jazz became absorbed into mainstream culture. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after an anthology, entitled The New Negro, of notable African-American works, published by philosopher Alain Locke in 1925. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Renaissance [May 2005]

The African American culture developed rapidly during the 1920s under the title of the "Harlem Renaissance". In 1921, the Black Swan Corporation opened. At its height, it issued ten recordings a month. All-African-American musicals also started up in 1921. In 1923, the Harlem Renaissance Basketball Club was founded by Robert Douglas. During the later 1920s, and especially in the 1930s, the basketball team became known as the best in the world.

The first issue of Opportunity was published. The African American playwright, Chip Woman's Fortune, debuted at Frazee Theatre. African American culture has contributed the largest part to the rise of jazz music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roaring_Twenties#Harlem_Renaissance [Mar 2006]

The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance (1920s) was a US arts movement, based in Harlem, and centered around jazz. Major figures included:

Writers Ralph Ellison, novelist Zora Neale Hurston, novelist, anthropologist Nella Larsen, novelist Langston Hughes, poet Jessie Fausset, novelist Countee Cullen, poet Claude McKay, poet James Weldon Johnson, poet

Painters John T. Biggers Edward Burra Aaron Douglas William H. Johnson Lois Mailou Jones Jacob Lawrence Hale Woodruff --http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=1&q=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Renaissance&e=1102

Black Swan Records

Black Swan Records was a United States record label in the 1920s; it was the first to be owned and operated by, and marketed to, African Americans. Black Swan was founded in May of 1921 by Harry Pace and was based in Harlem. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Swan_Records [Mar 2006]

In the first quarter of the 20th century (1900–1925), the great migration of the African-American people took shape. They left their rural, country, backwoods habitats of the southern states of the U. S. and relocated in the northern cities of an emerging industrialized America. They brought with them their taste for music which was a staple of their spiritual and earthy lifestyle. --http://www.redhotjazz.com/blackswan.html [Mar 2006]

The Jazz Age

The first commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA, began broadcasting in Pittsburgh in 1922. Radio stations subsequently proliferated at a remarkable rate, and with them spread the popularity of jazz. Jazz became associated with all things modern, sophisticated, and also decadent. Louis Armstrong marked the time with improvisations and endless variations on a single melody. Armstrong contributed largely to making scat singing popular, an improvisational vocal technique in which nonsensical syllables are sung or otherwise vocalized, often as part of a call-and-response interaction with other musicians onstage. Apart from the clarinet, Sidney Bechet also popularized the saxophone. Dance venues increased the demand for professional musicians and jazz adopted the 4/4 beat of dance music. Tap dancers entertained people in vaudeville theaters, out in the streets or accompanying bands. At the end of the Roaring Twenties, Duke Ellington entered the scene to start the beginning of the big band era. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roaring_Twenties#The_Jazz_Age [Mar 2006]

See also: Harlem Renaissance - African Americans - 1920s - 1921 - black music - American music - R & B

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