A BLACK HISTORY MONTH MOMENT:
What Was the Harlem Renaissance?
Although African-American writers all over the U.S. had managed to publish both fiction and non-fiction in various formats since (at least) the 1850s, there was something special about the brilliant new writing that emerged from Harlem-based authors between the end of World War I and the mid-1930s. Although it sounds like a marketing tag devised to sell black-creativity to curious white buyers, the description of this particular time period as “The Harlem Renaissance” had a deeper meaning to the many artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars of color whose work flowered between the two World Wars. This term intentionally reminded black intellectuals that African-American genius and culture was undergoing a rebirth, a “Renaissance,” after surviving the horrors of transatlantic slavery. . . not unlike how Europe slowly recovered from its culturally-regressive “Dark Ages” after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.