Ian's Harlem Renaissance Historical Page
Importance of the Renaissance The Crisis Arrival of a New Black Culture
WEB Du Bois:Early Life Accomplishments
Importance of the Renaissance
The city of Harlem was blossoming into the capital of the Black community during the 1920s because of men and women like W.E.B. Du Bois. A spirit of racial pride was flowing throughout the black community, where musicians, artists, and writers were able to express themselves without interruption. There were Nightclubs showing many great Jazz musicians known around the nation like Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and Fletcher Henderson where African Americans could express themselves. Not only was it a renaissance of the arts it was a renaissance in the way in which Whites perceived their fellow Blacks. Even more than a revolt against prejudice, the Harlem Renaissance encouraged pride in the special culture of Black Americans. This was a significant step for African-Americans, for the first time since their emancipation they were taking a significant step forward to equal rights. Whites living in New York recognized the vibrancy that was going on in the black community and traveled to Harlem to experience their culture. They proved to their white countrymen that their race was worthy of respect, although blacks were still segregated from whites this was by all means a step in the right direction. The Harlem Renaissance helped advance the African American cause of equality through their music, art, and literature
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The Crisis, established and edited by W.E.B. Du Bois, became an important periodical for African Americans. The NAACP and Du Bois were able to circulate 80,000 of these monthly periodical within a decade of its first publication. The Crisis brought up issues like lynching and racial prejudice, which the periodical fiercely denounced. The Crisis also served as a way for Du Bois to spread his opinion and objectives to the African American people. It was read by many African American families and played an essential role in the creation of African American public opinion. Households ranging from poor rural Blacks to middle class Blacks to Whites sympathetic to the Black renaissance could and would read The Crisis. Du Bois could change the opinion of thousands of Americans, black and white, to his side of a opinion through the periodical The Crisis.
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Arrival of a New Black Culture
The Harlem Renaissance bore a new type of literature through the African Americans perspective. New York City during the 1920s and 1930, was able to read the first nationally respected literature by Black writers it highlighted their ability to establish their own culture. Beliefs founded upon the works of W.E. B. Du Bois, editor of The Crisis, aided the African American literature. Du Bois believed that black Americans could not attain equality in the eyes of the whites by emulating them. They must have pride in their own race and establish their own culture. Du Bois also believed educated Blacks should lead the rest of their race to equality. Although very different they had a common bond, they were Black, and their literature expressed their common bond. Some influential writers in the Harlem Renaissance were Claude McKay, James Weldon, and Jean Toomer. For the first time in the history of the United States did literary critics take African American writing seriously.
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W.E.B. Du Bois
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, the great African-American writer and activist, was born in the New England town of New Barrington February 23, 1868. Du Bios was born in a divided America, only on the surface was there talk of unity, freedom, and brotherhood. Beneath the face, deep in the very soul of American, the agony war produced was not repaired. This divided America that Du Bois was surrounded by shaped his future accomplishments. As a young man W.E.B. Du Bois received degrees from Fisk University and Harvard also studying at the University of Berlin. The experience of different colleges and countries gave Du Bois a greater amount of information about the world outside his country.
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Du Bois became a college professor at Wilberforce University at the age of 26, and only three years later he published a series of sociological studies of black life that attracted widespread attention including "The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870" Later, in 1903, he published The Souls of Black Folk, which attacked Booker T. Washingtons position that Blacks should not seek social change until they had raised their economic status. Du Bois called on the upper class blacks to help the majority, to raise their position in society. His objective was to have all Blacks granted with full rights as an American citizen. Du Bois understood that only by the assistance of other successful blacks could this objective be attained.
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Stafford, Mark. W.E.B. Du Bois: Scholar and Activist. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989
Hamilton, Virginia. W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1972
Alexander Lacy, Leslie. The life of W.E.B. Du Bois: Cheer The Lonesome Traveler. New York: The Dial Press, 1963.