Harlem Renaissance

"Before relocating to Harlem, most of New York City's African-American population lived in neighborhoods like Tenderloin, San Juan Hill (Upper West Side), and Hell's Kitchen (now called Clinton). These neighborhoods were known as 'Black Bohemia.' Starting in 1904, several middle-class African American families abandoned Black Bohemia in favour of Harlem. This initiated a move north of educated African Americans and a foothold into Harlem. In 1910, a large block along 135th Street and Fifth Avenue was bought by various African-American realtors and a church group.

As World War I approached, unskilled European labor decreased so drastically that a shortage of labor ensued. To fill this void, large numbers of African-Americans from the Old South—attracted not http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifonly by the prospect of paid labor but an escape from the inherent inequities and institutional racism of the South.—relocated to New York City.

SNIP

Some common themes presented in the Harlem Renaissance are: alienation; marginality of blacks through institutional racism and the attempt to integrate into a diverse community; the use of African folk material; the blues tradition; and the paradox of writing or performing for elite audiences. However, the Renaissance was more than a literary or artistic movement; it possessed a certain sociological development—particularly through a new racial consciousness—through racial pride, as seen the efforts of Marcus Garvey. However, W.E.B DuBois's notion of "twoness", first introduced in The Souls of Black Folks (1903), explored a divided awareness of one's identity which provided a unique critique of the social ramifications of this racial consciousness."

View artwork from the period here.

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