Arts and Entertainment

A Cultural Revolution

What was the lasting effect of the Harlem Renaissance on African-American culture?

Leaders of the period, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, achieved great distinction in American letters well after the renaissance ended. Along with other writers, artists, and musicians, they produced works that are still studied in schools, colleges, and universities across the nation. Numerous books, theses, and other publications emanated from the works of these artists. Some of the participants, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Arna Bontemps, and Aaron Douglas, and precursor James Weldon Johnson, joined black college faculties at Fisk, Howard, Atlanta Universities, and elsewhere—as mainstream institutions were not yet accepting black faculty members. Philosopher, arts patron, educator, and writer Alain Leroy Locke (1886–1954) carried the enthusiasm for Harlem’s cultural reawakening to Howard University, where he chaired the philosophy department. In 1922 he proposed Howard as “the center for a national Negro theater.”


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