My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I knew about the HARLEM RENAISSANCE, but I fell in love with the time period when I studied it in Humanities at MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY. This book is an excellent further exploration of that time period. The book not only highlights the key figures, but the entire environment in which this historically cultural time took place.
Black folk didn’t have a lot of money, didn’t have a lot of anything, but what we had was SOUL. In the book you can see that ever since our presence on this continent, black folk had to do more with less and DID, even to the admiration and adoration of white folk. This book expertly details a lot of that. It also details the patrons of the Renaissance and how that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
The book touches on all aspects of the renaissance, including the environment/community like the section on the famous “Harlem Rent Parties”, the night life, the famous clubs like THE COTTON CLUB and THE SAVOY BALLROOM and the music artists/performers like JOSEPHINE BAKER, EARL “SNAKEHIPS” TUCKER, BESSIE SMITH, BILL “BOJANGLES” ROBINSON and ETHEL WATERS. The book focused most on the intellectuals, writers and journalists of the renaissance.
Famous figures like W. E. B. DU BOIS, LANGSTON HUGHES and ZORA NEALE HURSTON are heavily featured, but also JAMES WELDON JOHNSON, ALAIN LOCKE, ARTURO SCHOMBURG, WALLACE THURMAN, CLAUDE MCKAY, JEAN TOOMER and COUNTEE CULLEN are featured prominently.
The book also highlighted the patrons of the renaissance like the “Harlem Hostess” A’LELIA WALKER, but also white patrons like CHARLOTTE MASON and CARL VAN VECHTEN.
As a passage in the book stated, “CONTROLLING THE BLACK IMAGE. One consequence of the rising white interest in African-American literature was the black intelligentsia's drive to control its own image. Renaissance writers, intellectuals, and artists were charged with articulating a racial identity that not only plumbed indigenous black experience but simultaneously assumed a positive face for white society.“ This is ALWAYS the struggle.
The book was a WEALTH of information on this time period. This was SUCH a prodigious time for black artists and being a black artist, the Harlem Renaissance has always made me PROUD.
Because I’m so in love with the time period, I took copious notes via GoodReads on the book and shared them on the site HERE
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