Black Ancestors : Writers of the Harlem Renaissance

river

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Mar 22, 2004
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The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion of writers and artist in Harlem that took place in the last year of WW1 and after--lasting roughly from 1917 until 1935.

If our children are educated about this wonderful part of their heritage it will be a great counter to the false notion that knowing how to write is for whites.

The Movement was organized mainly by Alain Locke and documented most notably in the workes of historian Arnold Rampersad. I used his works along with "Terrible Honesty" by Anne Douglas for my Masters thesis--a comparison/contrast of "Not Without Laughter" by Langston Hughes and "Quest of the Silver Fleece" by W.E.B. Du Bois.

The Harlem Renaissance featured such great writers as:C

Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Bennett, Claude McKay, Ida B. Wells, Arna Bonteps, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes But most of all...

James Weldon Johnson, author of the Black National Anthm "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and God's Trombones

*******

O black and unknown bards of long ago,
How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?
How, in your darkness, did you come to know
The power and beauty of the minstrels' lyre?
Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes?
Who first from out the still watch, lone and long,
Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise
Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?
Heart of what slave poured out such melody
As "Steal away to Jesus"? On its strains
His spirit must have nightly floated free
Though still about his hands he felt his chains.
Who heard great "Jordan roll"? Whose starward eye
Saw chariot "swing low"? And who was he
That breathed that comforting, melodic sigh,
"Nobody knows de trouble I see"?

What merely living clod, what captive thing,
Could up toward God through all its darkness grope,
And find within its deadened heart to sing
These songs of sorrow, love and faith, and hope?
How did it catch that subtle undertone
That note in music heard not with the ears?
How sound the elusive reed so seldom blown,
Which stirs the soul or melts the heart to tears.

Not that great German master in his dream
Of harmonies that thundered amongst the stars
At the creation, ever heard a theme
Nobler than "Go down, Moses." Mark its bars
How like a mighty trumpet-call they stir
The blood. Such are the notes that men have sung
Going to valorous deeds; such tones there were
That helped make history when Time was young.

There is a wide, wide wonder in it all,
That from degraded rest and servile toil
The fiery spirit of the seer should call
These simple children of the sun and soil.
O black slave singers, gone, forgot, unfamed,
You--you alone, of all the long, long line
Of those who've sung untaught, unknown, unnamed,
Have stretched out upward, seeking the divine.

You sang not deeds of heroes or of kings;
No chant of bloody war, no exulting paean
No arms-won triumphs; but your humble strings
You touched in chord with music empyrean.
You sang far better than you knew; the songs
That for your listeners' hungry hearts sufficed
Still live--but more than this to you belongs:
You sang a race from wood and stone to Christ
 

Isaiah

Well-Known Member
MEMBER
Jun 8, 2004
3,210
63
river said:
The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion of writers and artist in Harlem that took place in the last year of WW1 and after--lasting roughly from 1917 until 1935.

If our children are educated about this wonderful part of their heritage it will be a great counter to the false notion that knowing how to write is for whites.

The Movement was organized mainly by Alain Locke and documented most notably in the workes of historian Arnold Rampersad. I used his works along with "Terrible Honesty" by Anne Douglas for my Masters thesis--a comparison/contrast of "Not Without Laughter" by Langston Hughes and "Quest of the Silver Fleece" by W.E.B. Du Bois.

The Harlem Renaissance featured such great writers as:C

Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Bennett, Claude McKay, Ida B. Wells, Arna Bonteps, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes But most of all...

James Weldon Johnson, author of the Black National Anthm "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and God's Trombones

*******

O black and unknown bards of long ago,
How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?
How, in your darkness, did you come to know
The power and beauty of the minstrels' lyre?
Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes?
Who first from out the still watch, lone and long,
Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise
Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?
Heart of what slave poured out such melody
As "Steal away to Jesus"? On its strains
His spirit must have nightly floated free
Though still about his hands he felt his chains.
Who heard great "Jordan roll"? Whose starward eye
Saw chariot "swing low"? And who was he
That breathed that comforting, melodic sigh,
"Nobody knows de trouble I see"?

What merely living clod, what captive thing,
Could up toward God through all its darkness grope,
And find within its deadened heart to sing
These songs of sorrow, love and faith, and hope?
How did it catch that subtle undertone
That note in music heard not with the ears?
How sound the elusive reed so seldom blown,
Which stirs the soul or melts the heart to tears.

Not that great German master in his dream
Of harmonies that thundered amongst the stars
At the creation, ever heard a theme
Nobler than "Go down, Moses." Mark its bars
How like a mighty trumpet-call they stir
The blood. Such are the notes that men have sung
Going to valorous deeds; such tones there were
That helped make history when Time was young.

There is a wide, wide wonder in it all,
That from degraded rest and servile toil
The fiery spirit of the seer should call
These simple children of the sun and soil.
O black slave singers, gone, forgot, unfamed,
You--you alone, of all the long, long line
Of those who've sung untaught, unknown, unnamed,
Have stretched out upward, seeking the divine.

You sang not deeds of heroes or of kings;
No chant of bloody war, no exulting paean
No arms-won triumphs; but your humble strings
You touched in chord with music empyrean.
You sang far better than you knew; the songs
That for your listeners' hungry hearts sufficed
Still live--but more than this to you belongs:
You sang a race from wood and stone to Christ
Good post, River... Perhaps we can use this thread to present some of those artists, and their works... A similar renaissance also took place in Cuba among Afro Cubans at around the same time(1920's-1930's)

Peace!
Isaiah
 

river

Watch Her Flow
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Mar 22, 2004
6,415
1,268
Where the Niger meets the Nile
Occupation
Author
Isaiah said:
Good post, River... Perhaps we can use this thread to present some of those artists, and their works... A similar renaissance also took place in Cuba among Afro Cubans at around the same time(1920's-1930's)

Peace!
Isaiah
Really? WOW. See you don't hear about this kinda stuff in his-story. Yes we can do that. But so as not to hog this forum I'd let a little time elapse between each post cuz there are so many writers.
 

cherryblossom

Well-Known Member
MEMBER
Feb 28, 2009
19,187
5,502
Artists




Between 1920-1930 and outburst of creativity among African American occurred in every aspect of art. This cultural movement became known as "The New Negro Movement" later the "Harlem Renaissance. Harlem attracted a prosperous and stylish middle class which sprouted an artistic center. African Americans were encouraged to clebrate their heritage and to become "The New Negro" a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke.

Aaron Douglas (1899-1979)

"...Our problem is to conceive, develop, establish an art era. Not white art painting black...let's bare our arms and plunge them deep through laughter, through pain, through sorrow, through hope, through disappointment, into the very depths of the souls of our people and drag forth material crude, rough, neglected. Then let's sing it, dance it, write it, paint it. Let's do the impossible. Let's create something transcendentally material, mystically objective. Earthy. Spiritually earthy. Dynamic." - Aaron Douglas



Aaron Douglas (1898-1979) was the Harlem Renaissance artist whose work best exemplified the 'New Negro' philosophy. He painted murals for public buildings and produced illustrations and cover designs for many black publications including The Crisis and Opportunity. In 1940 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he founded the Art Department at Fisk University and tought for twenty nine years.
Aaron Douglas completed these sketches in preparation for a mural he painted under WPA sponsorship fir the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem. The four-panel series Aspects of Negro Life tracks the journey of African Americans from freedom in Africa to enslavement in the UNited States and from liberation after the Civil War to life in the modern city.



Aaron Douglas, study for God's Trombones





Lois Mailou Jones (1905-1998)

Lois Jones attended the School of Museum of Fine Art, Boston, during a time of strong discrimination against African Americans. She entered her works into exhibitions that did not recognize African American artist by having white friends deliver the paintings. In other cases, prizes awarded to her were taken away and given to her white competitors. Despite these challenges JOnes prevailed as an artist.
"Mine is a quiet explorations quest for new meanings in color, texture and design. Even though I sometimes portray scenes of poor and struggling people, it is a great joy to paint." -Lois Mailou Jones



Lois Mailon Jones, Buddha, 1927

From "The life and art of Lois Mailou Jones" Tritobia Hayes Benjamin. 1994


Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000)


CONTINUED: http://historyoftheharlemrenaissance.weebly.com/artists.html
 
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