Black History Fact #3: The Harlem Renaissance emerged, flourished, declined; remains culturally important

Believe it or not, the iconicism of the 1920’s goes far beyond speakeasies, flapper girls and Gatsby-like lifestyles.

The explosion of the Harlem Renaissance also took place during the 1920’s, and grew in the midst of a period known as the Great Migration. During this time, many Black families moved from the oppression of the rural South to less oppressed Northern cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Harlem, NY. Between 1917-1935, Harlem was a Mecca of sorts, drawing writers, artists, photographers, poets, musicians, and scholars to create and entertain in its urban hearth.

Harlem became known as the city in which many artists sought solace, as they were able to freely express the experiences of oppression that characterized many lives at the time of this Renaissance, as well as their abiding love for the arts.

Although many well-known names such as Jacob Lawrence, Billie (Lady Day) Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Josephine Baker – just to name a few- flourished during the Harlem Renaissance, this period is often remembered as predominantly a literary movement. The Harlem Renaissance produced such beautiful poetry and literary works written by culture-altering Black authors such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Zora Neal Hurston, and many more who could also be named.

Unfortunately, around 1929, the stock market crashed, causing the Great Depression to creep in by early 1930 and take its toll on the legs of the Harlem Renaissance. But, because of such strong, cultural pioneers, the art of the Harlem Renaissance lives on, and continues to influence many artists today.