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The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance, or the New Negro Movement, was a period of great cultural activity and innovation among African American artists and writers. New artists and landmark works appeared in literature, dance, art, and music. Writers such as Counted Cullen and Langston Hughes, painters like Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, and musicians and composers such as Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith became widely known as members of the Harlem Renaissance. This collection of primary resources from the Library of Congress provides a window into that time period. The accompanying teacher's guide provides historical context and teaching guidelines.

http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/harlem-renaissance/

The Charleston Rag

Eubie Blake began a popular genre of music associated with the Harlem Renaissance with his composition of The Charleston Rag.

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The Dedication of the Marian Anderson Mural

Marian Anderson, noted contralto, sings "The Star Spangled Banner" at the dedication of a mural commemorating her free public concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939. The dedication was held in the Department of Interior Auditorium before a distinguished audience on January 6, 1943. Miss Anderson is holding a bouquet of roses presented to her by Negro high school cadets who served as ushers at the ceremony. Secretary of Interior Ickes accepted the mural for the government.

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Portrait of Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong hails from New Orleans, Louisiana. He profoundly influenced jazz music and performance with his voice and trumpet playing.

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Portrait of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes is famous for his lyric poetry containing insightful commentaries about African-American culture and race relations in the United States.

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Portrait of James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson is best known for his leadership in the NAACP and for his writing, which captured the African American culture.

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Halimuhfack

Zora Neale Hurston, originally of Eatonville, Florida, was already a published novelist and folklorist when she took a job with the Federal Writers' Project in Florida. Halimuhfack is a "jook" song, learned on the East coast of Florida. After the song, Zora Neale Hurston describes how she collects and learns songs (including those she has published).

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Portrait of Bessie Smith

The Empress of the Blues, singer Bessie Smith, is regarded as one of the greatest Jazz singers of her era. Like Langston Hughes, Smith heavily influenced jazz vocalists.

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Woofing

During the Harlem Renaissance, black American art, music, and literature was taken seriously among the intelligentsia as a significant force in contemporary culture. At the front of that movement were several writers, including Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston's work reflected the liberation and experimentation of post-war America.

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The Tulsa Star

The Tulsa Star was a staunchly Democratic African-American paper in an era when Republican ideals reigned over black communities.

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The Whites Invade Harlem

During the American Depression of the 1930’s, unemployed writers and artists were employed by the Federal Writer’s Project, which was sponsored by the U.S. government. The article, "The Whites Invade Harlem," is a primary document that was written to record the events of the Harlem Renaissance.

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The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Langston Hughes's first published poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," appeared in the June 1921 issue of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis. Since that time, it has been set to music repeatedly by African American composers seeking a worthy poem for an extended art song.

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The Case of Philip Lawrence

This is a poster for the Negro Theatre Project's presentation of "The Case of Philip Lawrence" at the Lafayette Theatre on Seventh Avenue and 131st Street in New York City. It shows an African-American man with arms chained together, a man in electric chair, and a woman in a red dress.

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Teacher's Guide: The Harlem Renaissance

Teacher's guide to Harlem Renaissance primary resources.

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The New York Tribune: The Stage and Its People 2

Horace Greeley founded the New York Tribune as a Whig party, penny paper on April 10, 1841, and would continue as its editor for the next thirty years. During Greeley's tenure, the Tribune became one of the more significant newspapers in the United States. The Tribune offered a strong moralistic flavor by playing down crime reports and scandals and providing political news, special articles, lectures, book reviews, book excerpts, and poetry.

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The New York Tribune: The Stage and Its People

Horace Greeley founded the New York Tribune as a Whig party, penny paper on April 10, 1841, and would continue as its editor for the next thirty years. During Greeley's tenure, the Tribune became one of the more significant newspapers in the United States. The Tribune offered a strong moralistic flavor by playing down crime reports and scandals and providing political news, special articles, lectures, book reviews, book excerpts, and poetry.

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"Ballad of Booker T." Draft

Composer Langston Hughes, known for his lyric poetry, often wrote insightful commentaries about African-American culture and race relations in the United States. He makes a case for the vindication of educator Booker T. Washington, and stresses the fact that Washington wanted to train the head, the heart, and the hand.

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Cayton's Weekly, May 31, 1919

Cayton’s Weekly served a narrowly defined readership — the small African American population of Seattle and environs. The paper concentrated more on issues than specific news stories and also extolled the accomplishments of black people throughout the nation.

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Cayton's Weekly, July 14, 1917

Cayton’s Weekly served a narrowly defined readership — the small African American population of Seattle and environs. The paper concentrated more on issues than specific news stories and also extolled the accomplishments of black people throughout the nation.

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Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston

An American folklorist, anthropologist, and author, Zora Neale Hurston published many works depicting African American culture. Her most famous work is titled "Their Eyes Were Watching God."

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