A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance by Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

By Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

A spouse to the Harlem Renaissance provides a accomplished selection of unique essays that deal with the literature and tradition of the Harlem Renaissance from the tip of global struggle I to the center of the 1930s.

  • Represents the main entire assurance of topics and targeted new views at the Harlem Renaissance available
  • Features unique contributions from either rising students of the Harlem Renaissance and verified educational “stars” within the field
  • Offers quite a few interdisciplinary good points, similar to the part on visible and expressive arts, that emphasize the collaborative nature of the era
  • Includes “Spotlight Readings” that includes lesser recognized figures of the Harlem Renaissance and newly chanced on or undervalued writings via canonical figures       

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Seeking to partake of all aspects of London nightlife, the two men visit fashionable West End establishments such as Almack’s before descending on the East End slums where they enter a tavern parodically named All Max, patronized by a motley crew of low‐life blacks. In the performance, white becomes black, distinctions between upper and lower classes evaporate (McAllister 2003, 116–18). From the African Grove Theater pleasure seekers could walk a few short steps to Almack’s famed for the dancing of William Henry Lane.

Renaissance spokespersons argued that black artists needed to represent the race through authentic literary and cultural representations, illuminating, in Du Bois’s terms, the special gifts and destiny of the Negro for an ignorant world. But definitions of the Negro’s special gifts and of proper forms of representation were up for debate. Did black authenticity reside in the elite or the folk? Should black artists insert themselves into western high cultural traditions or work to articulate a black vernacular tradition?

They were part of a black elite, many of whose members had fled from Manhattan to Brooklyn after the 1863 draft riots to form a society of “upper class and well‐to‐do coloured people” that functioned as “the center of social life and respectability” (Johnson 1972, 59). As in antebellum Manhattan, black Brooklynites lived in pockets within larger white neighborhoods, notably in the Fort Greene and Bedford‐ Stuyvesant areas. Closing in on itself, Brooklyn’s black elite self‐protectively sought to maintain a safe distance from both threatening whites and disreputable blacks.

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