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Transcript of Harlem Renaissance
A Brief History
The Real Estate War
The Jazz Age
People to Admire
Ever since elementary school, Hughes has had an incredible talent for poetry. He even wrote a poem that immediately earned him the title of "class poet." Fortunately, this talent was not shunned, for he got to know the daughter of Charles Chesnutt, a novelist, who helped him improve his writing and literary skills.
After graduating from high school, Hughes convinced his father to let him attend the Colombia University in New York, where he then goes on to win the
literary contest, receive the NAACP's Spingarn Medal, and get elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
The New Negro
Of all of the paintings, literature, and other forms of art that came out of the Harlem Renaissance, jazz was for sure the most widely enjoyed and respected African American piece throughout white Americans.
Louis Armstrong, one of the most well-known jazz trumpet players in this era, turned jazz into a time for the soloist to shine, for his habits of playing loud and different led him to create the improvised solo. Reflecting his playing personality, Armstrong got nickname "Sathmo"during his childhood, for he liked to talk a lot.
Another famous jazz musician, Duke Ellington, formed his own band in which he was conductor, and even composer. Together with his band, Ellington became one of the most popular entertainers at the famed Cotton Club. He also greatly expanded the once confined music of jazz more than any other musician at that time.
The Cotton Club
Called the "Father of Black American Art", Douglas had done a lot of in depth research about Picasso, West African sculpture, and Cubism in order to establish the "New Negro" look.
The Harlem Renaissance was a perfect time for young artists to bloom, and rightly so, they are the ones who captured every moment of it.
VanDerZee had been fascinated with photography ever since he was a boy, when he got his first camera, and has taught himself all there is to it.
Once he opened his studio in Harlem, people from common folk all the way to celebrities came to get their picture taken, where it was his job to make them flawless, even if that was not the case in real life.
Despite being located in the center of Harlem, the Cotton Club, due to the fact that it was owned by whites and the most well known night club in the United States, denied entry to blacks, unless they were performing.
The most widely used method of spreading the word of the cultural revolution during this time was through the countless of magazines published, for they included information about all types of media.
Charles Johnson, editor and founder of the magazine
dream that whites would one day accept blacks as they are, and in order to make this come true, he devoted himself to "depict Negro life as it is with no exaggerations."
Du Bois did not hesitate to use the official NAACP magazine, the
, to express his ideas about civil rights and to showcase the writings of other prominent blacks. This magazine became the most influential source of black literary collections.
Created by the black novelist, Wallace Thurman, Fire!! was a journal that also displayed literary works made by Negros, however, it differed from the rest of the magazines by the fact that its main purpose was to make everyone feel that "Black is beautiful."
W.E.B. Du Bois
Du Bois was one of the first voices ever heard to speak out against the stereotype that all blacks were dirty and inferior. In order to combat this, he invited several important figures in that time to a conference in New York City, where they became the National Committee for the Advancement of the Negro Race, later the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
If people like this chose not to perform any brave acts of courage and sacrifice towards colored people, the Harlem Renaissance would for sure not have come to exist.
James Weldon Johnson
After spending some time in Nicaragua and Venezuela, Johnson returned to the United States as a journalist, novelist, poet, and composer, where he used his skills to create the base of culture for the renaissance. Soon, he became the secretary of the NAACP, and would always work alongside Du Bois to fight for the freedoms of blacks.
Both of these men moved into Harlem in the early 1910s, right when this suburb was in a time of a very bold transformation.
Originally, the developers of Harlem had envisioned it to a be a neighborhood of white upper-middle class workers, for the new subway that was going to be built would shorten the ride to downtown from hours to merely minutes. However, investors in this project became over-ambitious, and Harlem was completed years before the subway, which made them face financial ruin.
Because of this overabundance of empty apartment buildings, almost the entire negro population in New York moved out of their overcrowded and expensive tenements in Black Bohemia to the much nicer and more reasonable complexes in Harlem.
After the few white families living in these apartments heard that this was happening, they were afraid that they would get "overrun", and thus asked property owners and companies to buy the buildings next to the ones where black families were living in. This became that start of the Real Estate War.
Angered by what the whites have done, black property owners decided to evict all of the whites from the apartments they owned, and rent them out to blacks. At last, the families who remained moved out after witnessing the "invasion" of Negros, up to the point where this neighborhood became almost all for blacks.
The Great Migration
In the beginning of the 20th century, massive amounts of blacks began moving from the South to the North in what came to be called the Great Migration.
First of all, one reason why the blacks moved up north
Once in the North, the blacks realized how much better their life was compared to the South, for there were numerous job opportunities, they could get promoted to a higher position, and their pay was considerably higher. For example, the daily salary for a steelworker in the South was a mere $2.50, while the same job in the North would pay $4.50, a $2 difference.
The Savoy Ballroom
Unlike the white only Cotton Club, the Savoy Ballroom allowed entrance to everyone, which made it an integrated club. While many other dance clubs also did this, the one thing that set this one apart from the rest is that it had two different bands, in order to keep the jazz music going on. Because of this, it soon acquired the name of "The Home of Happy Feet."
Due to the recently passed Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited the use, manufacture, and transportation of intoxicating liquors, made speakeasies, or clubs that illegally sold alcohol, all the more popular. In addition to this, speakeasies were places where people could go to dance, have fun, and have a break from their life, which is why night clubs became extremely popular for both whites and blacks.
After finding the "face" of the Harlem Renaissance, he had no difficulty in finding work, for his illustrations in various books and magazines soon became famous.
was because they were sick and tired of being mistreated
and segregated every day, and as soon they heard stories
of how good life was for Northern blacks compared to theirs, they instantly wanted to be a part of it. The second reason for why the blacks moved north was because in recent years, the South had experienced two terrible natural disasters, first a drought instantly followed by rain and flooding, and next came a record-breaking weevil infestation, which left both the farmers and black workers without a harvest for two consecutive years.
Hughes then publishes his first collection of his poems,
The Weary Blues
, which instantly makes a huge success. Following this, he published a second book, titled
Fine Clothes to the Jew
, whose title is based off of a man so poor he needs to sell his suit for a only couple of nickels. These two works made him one of the most well-known and influential cultural leaders during this age.
One of the reasons for why Hughes's poems were read by so many people was because he used a new type poetry that came to be called "jazz poetry." In this form, the music of jazz and blues inspired him to create rhythmic poems in which the reader feels as if this music is actually being played. To this day, Hughes is still considered to be the most original African American poet.
Even though the Harlem Renaissance came to an end, its legacy continues to live on. From the cultural standpoint to the fight for the freedom of colored people, this time period greatly impacted the United States, and even the world.
The modernized African American art in this era paved the way for future forms of art, such as the Black Art movement of the 1960s. Even nowadays, many artists are still inspired by these paintings and other artworks created.
Fight for Freedom
Because the life of blacks was publicized for the first time during the Harlem Renaissance, it is no wonder why it lead to the Civil Rights Movement. The forever changed the way the United States would perceive the freedom and rights of all people.
Out of all the black communities in America during this time, Harlem was undoubtedly the most united. This came to be, because almost everyone in the neighborhood was a Negro, and thus shared much in common, even if they did not know each other.
One of the similarities of blacks in this community was that the majority were very religious, and due to this fact, countless of churches were built in Harlem, so anyone could attend a sermon pretty much whenever they wanted to.
Another thing that brought this community closer together were rent parties. Because the rents of the apartments of blacks were so high compared to those of whites,
groups of residents would host nightly rent parties once in a while, where anyone that wanted to enter would pay a small fee to have fun, in order to raise enough money to pay off the monthly rent.