History of Harlem

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History of Harlem

Question 1

Number 1: "The New Negro"

Alain Locke edited a volume of critical essays and literature entitled the New Negro. In it, Locke heralded a spiritual awakening within the Afro-American community. It was manifested by a creative outburst of art, music and literature as well as by a new mood of self-confidence and self-consciousness within that community. The center of this explosion was located in Harlem. Famous personalities such as Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson James Weldon Johnson, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong either moved to Harlem or visited it frequently in order to participate in the vigorous cultural exchange, which took place there. The artist of the "Negro Renaissance", as important as they might be themselves, were merely symbolic of the new life which was electrifying the Afro-American community. This new life was also evident in the large urban centers of the North and particularly in Harlem. The New Negro was less polite and more aggressive; he was also more self reliant and less dependent on pity and charity. This change, however, did not occur suddenly. The passive, well-behaved Negro, content to stay in hip place, had largely been a myth. In part, he had been the product of a guilt-ridden white stereotype, which found this myth comforting. The Negro himself had also contributed to this fiction by his custom of social mimicry, his habit of appearing to fill the role, which whited expected of him. By the end of slavery, however, a spirit of individuality had been growing within the Negro consciousness. The opportunity for industrial employment in the North which had resulted from war and from the slow down in European immigration along with the incr...

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...subsequently did field research recording the folklore and ways of African Americans, first in Harlem and then throughout the rural South. Her work played a large role in preserving the folk traditions and cultural heritage of African Americans.

Hurston was ahead of her time. Her literary activities were influential in bridging the gap between what came to be known as the first and second phases of the Harlem Renaissance. She began writing short stories in the 1920's, but her major acheivements were generally between 1931 and 1943, when she wrote scholarly works on folklore and published six major novels. She was on the vanguard of the modern literary movement. Several of her books won recognition and her stories were published in the leading literary magazines of the times. Her most notable novel was Their Eyes Were Watching God, a classic in American literature.