The Distintive Characteristics of the Harlem Renaissance

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A cultural movement that took place from 1919 into the 1930s, the Harlem Renaissance was centered in the Manhattan, New York neighborhood of Harlem and was originally called the New Negro Movement. The movement took hold across the country and the globe, influencing artistic and political ideologies and laying the groundwork for the future Civil Rights movement. Spearheaded by artists, writers and musicians, the Harlem Renaissance celebrated and gave voice to the African American culture.

1 Racial Pride

In all the politic writings, theater, art, music and literature produced during this period, there is an overall sense of pride in the African American experience and the “New Negro.” The politicians and artists involved in the movement were committed to producing thought-provoking pieces created to challenge and uplift the African American race.

2 Creative Expression

During the Harlem Renaissance there was an outpouring of artistic creation in all fields including visual arts, literature and poetry, music and dance that both represented and gave voice to the African American thought. Notable artists, painters, writers and musicians involved in the Harlem Renaissance include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Jacob Lawrence, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

3 Intellectualism

Alain Locke, the first African American Rhodes scholar and a professor at Harvard University, saw the Harlem Renaissance as a "spiritual emancipation" for the African American community and the opportunity to reshape the African American heritage as an intellectual one equal to whites. The intellectual thought was geared toward challenging the stereotypes of African Americans while developing a greater appreciation for the folk roots and culture and the spiritualism of the past.

Based in Philadelphia, Kelly Gartner has been writing since 1994 as a copywriter and freelance writer. Her work has appeared in publications such as "Every Day With Rachael Ray" magazine, the "Philadelphia City Paper" and "Supermarket News." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Temple University.