Harlem Renaissance : Rebirth of Civility

My daughter and I were reviewing her history assignment in which she was asked to share a little about herself and was asked to choose a time in US history in which she would like to have lived. As I looked at the choices I thought to myself that I would not have consciously chosen to live in any of those era’s as they proved to be times of great suffering and unrest for a black young lady.

As we laughed and spoke more about the topic, I thought about a time in this country that I would have liked to have been alive and for me that time would be the early 1900’s Harlem, during the time of the renaissance.

The Harlem renaissance was described as being a time of spiritual awakening for black America, a time in which we began to form our own cultural identity and a sense of pride in our heritage. It was a time where we became creators of our own art, literature, and music. We created and carved out a sense of self and pride and we gave that gift to not only ourselves but we shared our talents, gifts and abilities with many of our international friends and supporters.

Artists such as Zora Neale Hurst, Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, James Van Der Zee shared their gifts and talents not only in Harlem but with the entire world.


To be alive during described as being the “Rebirth of African American Culture” for me would be the most exciting time to be alive, bear in mind that this rebirth occurred merely fifty years after the abolition of slavery and for many there was still an air of oppression. However, with the birth of the renaissance folks were free to fashion their lives and future. Many from the south migrated to the north to be a part of this electrically charged movement. Women had to decide whether they would be stay at home moms or if they would join the workforce or even enter the entertainment arena.


A major part of what draws me to that time in history were the images of people that looked like me adorned in glamorous apparel and displaying various degrees of style, grace and elegance. This sense of style was not regulated to the rich and famous but there are so many images of families and everyday people dressed for work, worship and leisurely activities.

It was an exciting time to be black in America.


  • photo credits encyclopedia Britannica; YouTube


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