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Harlem Renaissance the birth of black businesses

History of Harlem Renaissance

  1. Great Migration

  2. Langston Hughes

  3. Zora Neale Hurston

  4. Countee Cullen

  5. Louis Armstrong

  6. Cotton Club

  7. Paul Robeson

  8. Josephine Baker

  9. Aaron Douglas

  10. Marcus Garvey

  11. Harlem Renaissance Ends

  12. Impact of the Harlem Renaissance

  13. Sources

The Harlem Renaissance was the development of the Harlem neighborhood in New York City as a Black cultural mecca in the early 20th Century and the subsequent social and artistic explosion that resulted. Lasting roughly from the 1910s through the mid-1930s, the period is considered a golden age in African American culture, manifesting in literature, music, stage performance and art.


Great Migration

The northern Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem was meant to be an upper-class white neighborhood in the 1880s, but rapid overdevelopment led to empty buildings and desperate landlords seeking to fill them.

In the early 1900s, a few middle-class Black families from another neighborhood known as Black Bohemia moved to Harlem, and other Black families followed. Some white residents initially fought to keep African Americans out of the area, but failing that many whites eventually fled.

Outside factors led to a population boom: From 1910 to 1920, African American populations migrated in large numbers from the South to the North, with prominent figures like W.E.B. Du Bois leading what became known as the Great Migration.

In 1915 and 1916, natural disasters in the south put Black workers and sharecroppers out of work. Additionally, during and after World War I, immigration to the United States fell, and northern recruiters headed south to entice Black workers to their companies.

By 1920, some 300,000 African Americans from the South had moved north, and Harlem was one of the most popular destinations for these families.

Langston Hughes

This considerable population shift resulted in a Black Pride movement with leaders like Du Bois working to ensure that Black Americans got the credit they deserved for cultural areas of life. Two of the earliest breakthroughs were in poetry, with Claude McKay’s collection Harlem Shadows in 1922 and Jean Toomer’s Cane in 1923. Civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man in 1912followed by God’s Trombones in 1927, left their mark on the world of fiction.

Novelist and du Bois protege Jessie Redmon Fauset's 1924 novel There Is Confusion explored the idea of Black Americans finding a cultural identity in a white-dominated Manhattan. Fauset was literary editor of the NAACP magazine The Crisis and developed a magazine for Black children with Du Bois.

Sociologist Charles Spurgeon Johnson, who was integral in shaping the Harlem literary scene, used the debut party for There Is Confusion to organize resources to create Opportunity, the National Urban League magazine he founded and edited, a success that bolstered writers like Langston Hughes.

Hughes was at that party along with other promising Black writers and editors, as well as powerful white New York publishing figures. Soon many writers found their work appearing in mainstream magazines like Harper’s.

Zora Neale Hurston

Anthropologist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston courted controversy through her involvement with a publication called FIRE!!

Helmed by white author and Harlem writers’ patron Carl Van Vechten, the magazine exoticized the lives of Harlem residents. Van Vechten’s previous fiction stirred up interest among whites to visit Harlem and take advantage of the cultural and nightlife there.

Though Van Vechten’s work was condemned by older luminaries like DuBois, it was embraced by Hurston, Hughes and others.

Countee Cullen

Poetry, too, flourished during the Harlem Renaissance. Countee Cullen was 15 when he moved into the Harlem home of Reverend Frederick A. Cullen, the pastor of Harlem’s largest congregation, in 1918.

The neighborhood and its culture informed his poetry, and as a college student at New York University, he obtained prizes in a number of poetry contests before going onto Harvard’s masters program and publishing his first volume of poetry: Color. He followed it up with Copper Sun and The Ballad of the Brown Girl, and went on to write plays as well as children’s books.

Cullen received a Guggenheim fellowship for his poetry in and married Nina Yolande, the daughter of W.E.B. DuBois. Their wedding was a major social event in Harlem. Cullen’s reviews for Opportunity magazine, which ran under the column "Dark Tower," focused on works from the African-American literati and covered some of the biggest names of the age.

Louis Armstrong

The music that percolated in and then boomed out of Harlem in the 1920s was jazz, often played at speakeasies offering illegal liquor. Jazz became a great draw for not only Harlem residents, but outside white audiences also.

Some of the most celebrated names in American music regularly performed in Harlem—Louis ArmstrongDuke EllingtonBessie SmithFats Waller and Cab Calloway, often accompanied by elaborate floor shows. Tap dancers like John Bubbles and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson were also popular.

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With the groundbreaking new music came a vibrant nightlife. The Savoy opened in 1927, an integrated ballroom with two bandstands that featured continuous jazz and dancing well past midnight, sometimes in the form of battling bands helmed by Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford and King Oliver.

While it was fashionable to frequent Harlem nightlife, entrepreneurs realized that some white people wanted to experience black culture without having to socialize with African Americans and created clubs to cater to them.

The most successful of these was the Cotton Club, which featured frequent performances by Ellington and Calloway. Some in the community derided the existence of such clubs, while others believed they were a sign that Black culture was moving toward greater acceptance.

Paul Robeson

The cultural boom in Harlem gave Black actors opportunities for stage work that had previously been withheld. Traditionally, if Black actors appeared onstage, it was in a minstrel show musical and rarely in a serious drama with non-stereotypical roles.

At the center of this stage revolution was the versatile Paul Robeson, an actor, singer, writer, activist and more. Robeson first moved to Harlem in 1919 while studying law at Columbia University and continually maintained a social presence in the area, where he was considered an inspirational but approachable figure.

Robeson believed that arts and culture were the best paths forward for Black Americans to overcome racism and make advances in a white-dominated culture.

Josephine Baker

Black musical revues were staples in Harlem, and by the mid-1920s had moved south to Broadway, expanding into the white world. One of the earliest of these was Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle’s Shuffle Along, which launched the career of Josephine Baker.

White patron Van Vechten helped bring more serious lack stage work to Broadway, though largely the work of white authors. It wasn’t until 1929 that a Black-authored play about Black lives, Wallace Thurman and William Rapp’s Harlem, played Broadway.

Playwright Willis Richardson offered more serious opportunities for Black actors with a several one-act plays written in the 1920s, as well as articles in Opportunity magazine outlining his goals. Stock companies like the Krigwa Players and the Harlem Experimental Theater also gave Black actors serious roles.

Aaron Douglas

The visual arts were never welcoming to Black artists, with art schools, galleries and museums shutting them out. Sculptor Meta Warrick Fuller, a protégé of Auguste Rodin, explored African American themes in her work and influenced Du Bois to champion Black visual artists.

The most celebrated Harlem Renaissance artist is Aaron Douglas, often called “the Father of Black American Art,” who adapted African techniques to realize paintings and murals, as well as book illustration.

Sculptor Augusta Savage’s 1923 bust of Du Bois garnered considerable attention. She followed that up with small, clay portraits of everyday African Americans, and would later be pivotal to enlisting black artists into the Federal Art Project, a division of the Work Progress Administration (WPA).

James VanDerZee’s photography captured Harlem daily life, as well as by commissioned portraits in his studio that he worked to fill with optimism and separate philosophically from the horrors of the past.

Marcus Garvey

Black nationalist and leader of the Pan-Africanism movement Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica but moved to Harlem in 1916 and began publishing the influential newspaper Negro World in 1918. His shipping company, Black Star Line, established trade between Africans in America, the Caribbean, South and Central America, Canada and Africa.

Garvey is perhaps best known for founding the Universal Negro Improvement Association, or UNIA, which advocated for “separate but equal” status for persons of African ancestry with the goal of establishing Black states around the world. Garvey was famously at odds with W.E.B. DuBois, who called him "the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America." His outspoken views also made him a target of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.

Harlem Renaissance Ends

The end of Harlem’s creative boom began with the stock market crash of 1929 and The Great Depression. It wavered until Prohibition ended in 1933, which meant white patrons no longer sought out the illegal alcohol in uptown clubs.

By 1935, many pivotal Harlem residents had moved on to seek work. They were replaced by the continuous flow of refugees from the South, many requiring public assistance.

The Harlem Race Riot of 1935 broke out following the arrest of a young shoplifter, resulting in three dead, hundreds injured and millions of dollars in property damage. The riot was a death knell for the Harlem Renaissance.

Impact of the Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was a golden age for African American artists, writers and musicians. It gave these artists pride in and control over how the Black experience was represented in American culture and set the stage for the civil rights movement.


Harlem Stomp! A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance. Laban Carrick Hill.
The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930. Steven Watson.
The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary For The Era. Bruce Kellner, Editor.

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HOW TO TELL IF FAMILY , FRIEND OR LOVE ONES ARE DECOMPING IN MENTAL HEALTH Overview Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function. A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy). Products & Services Book: Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, 5th Edition Show more products from Mayo Clinic Symptoms Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Examples of signs and symptoms include: Feeling sad or down Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt Extreme mood changes of highs and lows Withdrawal from friends and activities Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations Inability to cope with daily problems or stress Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people Problems with alcohol or drug use Major changes in eating habits Sex drive changes Excessive anger, hostility or violence Suicidal thinking Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains. When to see a doctor If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Most mental illnesses don't improve on their own, and if untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems. If you have suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common with some mental illnesses. If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right away: Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Call your mental health specialist. Call a suicide hotline number. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat on Seek help from your primary care provider. Reach out to a close friend or loved one. Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community. Suicidal thinking doesn't get better on its own — so get help. Helping a loved one If your loved one shows signs of mental illness, have an open and honest discussion with him or her about your concerns. You may not be able to force someone to get professional care, but you can offer encouragement and support. You can also help your loved one find a qualified mental health professional and make an appointment. You may even be able to go along to the appointment. If your loved one has done self-harm or is considering doing so, take the person to the hospital or call for emergency help. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic Causes Mental illnesses, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors: Inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger it. Environmental exposures before birth. Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness. Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression and other emotional disorders. Risk factors Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, including: A history of mental illness in a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one's death or a divorce An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes Brain damage as a result of a serious injury (traumatic brain injury), such as a violent blow to the head Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or assault Use of alcohol or recreational drugs A childhood history of abuse or neglect Few friends or few healthy relationships A previous mental illness Mental illness is common. About 1 in 5 adults has a mental illness in any given year. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through later adult years, but most cases begin earlier in life. The effects of mental illness can be temporary or long lasting. You also can have more than one mental health disorder at the same time. For example, you may have depression and a substance use disorder. Complications Mental illness is a leading cause of disability. Untreated mental illness can cause severe emotional, behavioral and physical health problems. Complications sometimes linked to mental illness include: Unhappiness and decreased enjoyment of life Family conflicts Relationship difficulties Social isolation Problems with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs Missed work or school, or other problems related to work or school Legal and financial problems Poverty and homelessness Self-harm and harm to others, including suicide or homicide Weakened immune system, so your body has a hard time resisting infections Heart disease and other medical conditions Prevention There's no sure way to prevent mental illness. However, if you have a mental illness, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control. Follow these steps: Pay attention to warning signs. Work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your symptoms. Make a plan so that you know what to do if symptoms return. Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in symptoms or how you feel. Consider involving family members or friends to watch for warning signs. Get routine medical care. Don't neglect checkups or skip visits to your primary care provider, especially if you aren't feeling well. You may have a new health problem that needs to be treated, or you may be experiencing side effects of medication. Get help when you need it. Mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until symptoms get bad. Long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of symptoms. Take good care of yourself. Sufficient sleep, healthy eating and regular physical activity are important. Try to maintain a regular schedule. Talk to your primary care provider if you have trouble sleeping or if you have questions about diet and physical activity. By Mayo Clinic Staff Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic Diagnosis & treatment June 08, 2019 Print Share on: FacebookTwitter Show references Related Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction Mental health providers: Tips on finding one Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness Associated Procedures Deep brain stimulation Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) Psychotherapy Show more associated procedures News from Mayo Clinic World Mental Health Day: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness Oct. 10, 2019, 02:00 p.m. CDT Helping Others Heal: A unique approach to residential treatment Feb. 13, 2019, 08:00 p.m. CDT Products & Services Book: Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, 5th Edition Show more products and services from Mayo Clinic Mental illness Symptoms & causes Diagnosis & treatment Advertisement 3 Post not marked as liked Recent Posts

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