VICTOR A. KRAMER
These twelve photographs, selected from the Harold Jackman Countee Cullen Memorial Collection, housed within the archives of Atlanta University, represent many aspects of that era sometimes called "The New Negro," truly a renaissance in that a birth was possible because of a happy concatenation of events in the nineteen twenties. The rich collection from which these photographs are taken is a valuable resource which reflects the complexity of that era.
In a dozen photographs one can only catch glimpses of "The Harlem Renaissance," yet such glimpses can be extremely revealing. One definite suggestion in these selected photographs is the combination of strength and sometimes brooding dignity reflected in the faces of persons, such as Paul Robeson, within a movement which had its roots in the nineteenth century and earlier. Recognition of this fact also helps the observer to understand that in many ways what was begun in the nineteen twenties lives on into the present moment. Today we remain fascinated with the accomplishments of the Harlem Renaissance.
The photograph of W.E.B. DuBois, by Carl Van Vechten, included here is a striking portrait which illustrates my basic point. It was made in 1946. Similarly striking are the two concluding photos which make up this portfolio. They clearly reveal that what was born in the nineteen twenties flourished quite beyond those limited years. The vivid portrait of Dorothy West, also taken by Van Vechten in 1948, catches her vibrancy, something still beautifully evident in 1988, forty years later, when she came to Atlanta to speak upon the occasion of the publication of the first edition of this book.
In a related way, the photograph of Langston Hughes, included here as the last item, shows him with students in an Atlanta school in the nineteen forties and suggests the wonder of continuity. His poetry, as well as his spirit, reflected