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Who's Who - The Harlem Renaissance

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Terri Steinmann

on 20 April 2017

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Transcript of Who's Who - The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance
James Baldwin 1924 - 1987
Novelist, playwright, poet, social critic
Zora Neale Hurston 1891 - 1960
Folklorist, anthropologist, author
Jean Toomer 1894 - 1967
Poet and novelist
Langston Hughes 1902 - 1967
Poet, activist, novelist, playwright
Dorothy West 1907 - 1998
Novelist, journalist, publisher
Countee Cullen 1903 - 1946
Poet
Little is known about his early life. Was raised by maternal grandmother until she died in 1919
Countee adopted by Frederick A. Cullen, a minister in Harlem, and future President of the NAACP
Cullen flourished in the world of academics, earning several academic honors and prizes for poetry and oratory
After graduating from high school, Cullen was accepted to NYU where he continued to write and publish poetry in several publications
After graduating from NYU in 1925, he was accepted to Harvard's masters program in English. At the same time, his first collection of poetry,
Color
, was published
Cullen spent the next four years writing and publishing nearly nonstop
in 1928 he was awarded the Guggenheim fellowship to study and write poetry in France
It was there he met and married Nina DuBois, daughter of famed African American intellectual, W.E.B. DuBois

Born in Notasulga, Alabama, her family moved to all-black Eatonville, Florida when she was a young girl
Her family was quite poor, but encouraged her education
Hurston moved to Baltimore to attend Morgan Academy, graduating in 1919. She then continued on at Howard University, graduating in 1924
She moved to Harlem in 1925 where she became involved in the Renaissance
In the late 20s, she began studying anthropology at Barnard College
She was the first black scholar to research African-American folklore on a meaningful level.While this was a time when most African-Americans were trying to forget the past, Hurston chose to celebrate it
She traveled to the American South, Jamaica, Haiti, and the British West Indies collecting traditional songs, stories, dances, and rituals, which she used in her writing

Born in Boston. Her father was a former slave and successful businessman. Her mother was one of 22 children
West began writing at an early age. When she was 19 she tied for second place in a writing contest with her short story, "The Typewriter". The other 2nd place winner was Zora Neale Hurston
Shortly after winning, she moved to Harlem with her cousin who was also a writer and poet
In 1934 she founded and acted as editor of an African American literary magazine called
Challenge
As the Renaissance began to wind down, West moved to Martha's Vineyard where she worked as a journalist for a small newspaper
It was there that she wrote her first novel,
The Living is

Easy
. Although it received critical praise, it sold few copies
In 1982, The Feminist Press reprinted
The Living is Easy
, bringing West back into the spotlight
West published her second novel,
The Wedding
, at the age of 85
Born in Louisiana. His father was a former slave and successful farmer, and his mother's father was the first black governor of Louisiana. Both sides of his family had white ancestry
Toomer's father left the family when he was young. He moved to Washington D.C. with his mother's family as part of the city's "mulatto elite"
Attended both all-black schools and all-white schools as a child, which shaped his resistance to labels later in life, preferring to simply be identified as American
Between 1914-1917 he attended six different universities from Wisconsin to New York, but graduated from none of them
Born in Harlem as the oldest of nine children to a domestic worker. They lived in extreme poverty
Baldwin was illegitimate. He never knew his biological father
At the age of three, Baldwin's mother married a cruel man who was a store-front preacher.
At the age of 14, James joined the Pentecostal Church of Harlem and became a preacher. He began to draw larger crowds than his stepfather
In his late-teen years, Baldwin realized he was gay. In 1949, due to his growing impatience with the treatment of both gays and African-Americans, he moved to Paris
He returned to the States in 1957 to get involved in the Civil Rights Act and the struggle to desegregate schools
Also called the New Negro Movement
The Renaissance was a confluence of ideas and people that began in the early 1900's after the Great Migration following the Civil War
With the formation of the NAACP in 1909, the National Urban League (NUL) in 1910, and the growing African-American middle class, the start of the Renaissance was underway
Artists, musicians, and writers all contributed towards racial equality, preferring to advance the cause using art and ideas as opposed to politics and violence.
African-American culture was soon becoming commonplace in America
The Harlem Renaissance 1919 - 1930
He was investigated by the FBI after several reports that he wrote on Civil Rights activities. The FBI reportedly had a 1,750 page file on him
Baldwin formed a political friendship with Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
After Dr. King's assassination, he felt that violence may be the only route to social justice
Eventually, he advocated reason and understanding as the only means of ending racial violence. As a result, Baldwin was hugely influential. Maya Angelou called him, "a friend and brother", Toni Morrison wrote his eulogy in 1987, and he has been publicly credited by Chinua Achebe, Nikki Giovanni, and Richard Avedon
His most famous work is
Go Tell it on the Mountain
(1952)
He died of cancer in 1987
She wrote more than 50 short stories, plays, and essays.
Her most famous work was 1937's
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Her writings declined in popularity by the late 1940s
She spent her last years working as a maid for a wealthy white family and died in poverty in 1960
Alice Walker, author of
The Color Purple
, revived interest in Hurston's work in the late 1970s
Hurston portrayed her characters as strong and independent, and often wrote about themes which were "too black" to appeal to white audiences
In 1921 he accepted a teaching position in Georgia. He acknowledged this as an opportunity to rediscover his roots, leading him to write his best-known novel,
Cane
, in 1923
In the late 1920's, Toomer became devoted to the teachings of Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a spiritual leader who preached transcendence
Toomer was married twice, both times to white women. Toomer resented the attention and criticism
He continued practicing under Gurdjieff, eventually withdrawing entirely from public life
He continued to write both novels and poems, but not for publication
Toomer became a Quaker and moved to Pennsylvania, where he died in 1967
Born in Joplin, MO. His parents divorced when he was very young. He moved to Lawrence, KS to live with his maternal grandmother while his mom traveled looking for work
Eventually moved to Lincoln, IL to live with his mother who had remarried
After graduating, Hughes tried to reunite with his father who was living in Mexico. It did not go well
Hughes attended Columbia College for a year before becoming a seaman and traveling to Africa and Europe
He returned to the States and published his first book of poetry,
Not Without Laughter
, in 1930
Hughes refused to differentiate his personal experiences from the black experience. He showed all aspects of African-American life: suffering, culture, music, laughter, and language
Considered to be the most influential and prolific writer of the Harlem Renaissance
Because Countee had long navigated both the white and black "worlds" of New York successfully, he embraced the idea that art could transcend race
Cullen believed that artists should only showcase the positive aspects of African American life and culture in an effort to bring the two races together
He criticized many artists, including Langston Hughes, for their overt themes and subject matter. His criticisms were purely personal
Cullen's work had romantic leanings, was conservative in nature, and stressed harmony between African Americans and whites
By the early 1930's, his popularity as a poet declined. He found success as a playwright and worked steadily until his death in 1946
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