Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance

Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance

Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance

Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance

Excerpt

In 1926 a white novelist, Carl Van Vechten, published the sensational bestseller Nigger Heaven and hundreds of white thrillseekers ventured uptown from Manhattan to witness and experience firsthand the exotic and lusty life that, according to the novel, characterized Harlem. A year earlier black scholar Alain Locke had edited the March issue of The Survey Graphic, which portrayed the "New Negro," a term Locke coined to denote a new breed of blacks both inside and outside the arts that had emerged following the First World War. Also in 1926 a group of young writers, poets, and artists banded together to publish Fire!!, an extremely intense journal of black literary expression. Although Fire!! failed after a single issue, it mirrored the passion and the unrest of the young black writers. Each of these events reflected a significant aspect of the literary movement known variously as the New Negro movement, the Negro Renaissance, and the Harlem Renaissance; taken together, they provide a succinct and remarkably accurate glimpse of the diverse and diffuse currents that surfaced in the mid-1920s and gave rise to a surge of black literary creativity . . .

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