The Harlem Revival in the early 20th century was the expansion of New York’s Harlem community into a black urban mecca (Weaver, 12). Furthermore, as a result, it was the artistic and eventual social explosion that occurred. That time was well-thought-out as a golden era of African American culture in the 1920s into the mid-1930s (Weaver, 16). It expresses itself through poetry, literature, stage performance, and sculpture.
The Big Migration
The northern Manhattan district of Harlem was originally supposed to belong to the upper white neighborhood in the 1880s (Weaver, 22). However, rapid overdevelopment led to the growth of desperate landlords who were seeking tenants including many empty buildings. A certain area known as Black Bohemia belonging to middle class families started moving towards Harlem in 1903 (Weaver, 24). These families were followed later on by black families leading to clashes with several white residents who were frantically fighting to keep them at bay. Nevertheless, most of these white families failed to keep black families away, opting to fled instead.
Population boom resulted from outside factors such the Black American populations who were migrating in large numbers from 1910 to 1920s. They migrated from South towards the North accompanied by prominent figures such as W.E.B Du Bois (Weaver, 32). This led to what was popularly known as the Great Migration. Nonetheless, natural disasters that hit the South between 1915 and 1916 put most of Black sharecroppers and workers out of work. During World War I and immediately after, migration to the United States declined and as a result, northern recruiters started moving towards the South with the aim of alluring Black workers to work in their companies (Weaver, 41).
The significant population shift led to the formation of Black Pride Movement headed by leaders such as Du Bois, who was working to ensure that the Black communities were adequately credited in regards to their cultural areas of life(Weaver, 44). Some of the earliest breakthroughs in their quest were successful poetry such as Claude McKay_x0092_s Harlem Shadows that got into the limelight in 1922 as well as 1923_x0092_s Jean Toomer_x0092_s Crane. Popular novels such as There Is Confusion, which was created by du Bois in 1924, sought to explore the thought of Black Americans discovering their own cultural identity. This was in Manhattan, which was dominated by Whites. In addition, as an editor of the NAACP magazine popularly known as The Crisis, Fauset and Du Bois developed many more magazines for Black children (Weaver, 48).
There were many sources for the renaissance in regards to the black culture primarily in the Caribbean and the United States. It manifested itself beyond the outskirts of Harlem; however, Harlem remained to be its symbolic capital (Weaver, 49). Harlem was considered to be a catalysts for Black community_x0092_s artistic experimentation including the exceedingly popular nightlife destination. North America_x0092_s communication capital played a huge role in providing visibility to the New Negroes including many opportunities for publications.
Situated in the north of Central Park, Harlem became virtually a black city despite belonging to the Whites in early 1920s. Intellectuals of Black descent from Baltimore, Washington, Los Angeles including Philadelphia converged in Harlem and decided to settle there.
Weaver, D. Harry T Burleigh’s “Ethiopia Saluting the Colors” and Harlem Renaissance Musical Debates. 2014.