Black Writers and White Promoters
W hile the black intelligentsia played a major role in the Harlem Renaissance, their efforts alone were not enough to create a major literary movement. Black America in the 1920 s did not possess the resources to develop a full-fledged literary movement. Blacks did not control the publishing houses, they could not mobilize a large enough body of book buyers, and they lacked the capital and contacts in their own community to sustain a major literary movement. Consequently, while the Harlem Renaissance was a black literary movement, it had significant and indispensable links to the white literary community.
White involvement in the Renaissance took several forms. First, a number of white publishers centered in New York and led by firms like Alfred Knopf played a major role in identifying and promoting black literary talent. White publishers worked through their contacts with black writers and the black intelligentsia, or through white writers and literary promoters who had such contacts. The link between black writers and white publishers is itself an interesting aspect of the black literary movement. A second group of whites involved in the movement were those who provided financial support to black writers and black literary activity. They included patrons who established individual associations with specific black writers as well as those whose funding activities affected larger numbers of Renaissance participants. The relationship between white patrons and their black protégés, while often cordial, sometimes resulted in misunderstandings and problems. The third category of whites involved in the movement was the handful who found that the Renaissance overlapped their own literary or political activities. Theirs was generally a brief but occasionally intense involvement. Obviously these categories