Harlem Renaissance Re-Examined

By Victor A. Kramer; Robert A. Russ | Go to book overview
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Montgomery Gregory, "The Drama of Negro Life," in The New Negro, ed. Alain Locke ( New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1925), p. 156.
Abrahamson, Negro Playwrights, p. 26.
Clinton F. Oliver and Stephanie Sills, eds., Contemporary Black Drama From A Raisin in the Sun to No Place to be Somebody ( New York: Scribner's Sons, 1971), p. 15.
Oliver and Sills, Contemporary Black Drama, p. 15.
Hatch, Black Theatre U.S.A., p. 1. In the African Grove Theatre ( 1820-1822), the first professional black theatre in this country, King Shotaway, a play based on a slave insurrection on the island of St. Vincent in the British West Indies, was performed. This was perhaps the first work of its kind--a serious play by a black writer--to reach the stage by way of black actors. Also see Hatch, "Introduction," Rachael, by Angelina Weld Grimké, p. 137.
Oliver and Sills, Contemporary Black Drama, p. 14.
Angelina Weld Grlmké, Rachael, Black Theatre U.S.A., p. 157.
Gloria Hull, "Under the Days: The Buried Life and Poetry of Angelina Weld Grimké," Conditions: five--the black women's issue 2:2 ( Autumn 1979): 18.
Hull, "Under the Days,"18.
Hatch, Black Theatre U.S.A., p. 173.
In 1924, the year before this play was written, sixteen blacks were lynched across the country. In 1925 the number was eighteen, and in 1926, there were twenty-nine. In the decade of the 1920s the highest number, fifty-eight, were lynched in 1921, and the lowest number, sixteen, were lynched in 1924 and 1927. See Walter White, Rope and Faggot ( New York: Arno, 1969) for lynching statistics 1882-1927. One of the early crusaders against this heinous crime was Ida B. Wells ( 1862-1931), the first black woman journalist. See Wells, Crusade For Justice ( Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1970) for her personal account of this struggle to put an end to lynching.
See W. E.B. Du Bois, "The White World," in Dusk of Dawn, An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept ( New York: Schocken, 1940). This is an especially poignant essay on the topic, but Du Bois had been speaking out on issues of white imperialism, capitalism and world racial politics for most of the 1920s.
There was anger and protest in the literature of the 1920s, and one has only to look at the writings of Claude McKay and Langston Hughes to realize that. However, there were many writers who were more concerned with the celebration of the black identity, and who wrote optimistically of the future for blacks in America. Some were willing to observe the possibilities of drastic confrontations, initiated by blacks, if conditions did not change. But few ventured to express a sense of an inevitable bloody confrontation.


Bonner, Marita. Exit an Illusion. Crisis 36 ( 1929): 335-36, 352.

_____. The Pot Maker. Opportunity5 ( Feb. 1927): 43-46.

_____. The Purple Flower. Crisis 35 ( 1928): 9-11, 28, 30.

Burrill, Mary. Aftermath. The Liberator 2. 4 ( April 1919): 10-14.

_____. They That Sit in Darkness. Birth Control Review 3. 9 ( Sept. 1919): 5-8.

Cuney-Hare, Maud. Antar of Araby. In Plays and Pageants from the Life of the Negro. Ed. Willis Richardson. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers, 1930. 27-73.

Duncan, Thelma. Black Magic. In The Yearbook of Short Plays. Ed. Claude Merton Wise and Lee Owen Snook. Chicago: Row, Peterson & Company, 1931. 217-32.

_____. The Death Dance. In Plays of Negro Life. Ed. Alain Locke and Montgomery Gregory . New York: Harper & Brothers, 1927. 321-32.

_____. Sacrifice. In Plays and Pageants from the Life of the Negro. Ed. Willis Richardson. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers, 1930. 3-24.

Gaines-Shelton, Ruth. The Church Fight. Crisis 31-33 ( 1926): 17-21.


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