The Harlem Renaissance

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 265

Many of the period’s prominent writers studied at Columbia University in New York City. Research the histories of Columbia University and other American universities during the first twenty years of the twentieth century. What were the policies of various institutions in terms of admitting black students? What were the choices for blacks who wished to attend college during the 1920s and earlier in the century? Present your findings in an essay.

Churches played a key role in the lives of many Harlemites. In addition to holding Sunday services, some churches, such as the Abyssinian Baptist Church, organized community centers, helped feed the poor, and operated homes for the elderly. Investigate the growth of churches in Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s and how many developed into influential and powerful organizations.

Many critics note that, while the Harlem Renaissance ended during the early 1930s, African-American writers did not stop producing work. Research the important black writers of the 1940s and 1950s, such as Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison. Acquaint yourself with themes these writers dealt with, their styles, and so on. Discuss in a short essay any similarities or differences you see between this literature and the literature of the Harlem Renaissance.

Some historians and critics have argued that the present time is another “renaissance” for black artists, entertainers, and writers, similar in a number of ways to the Harlem Renaissance. Consider the two periods and create a chart showing the similarities and differences between the two as regards politics, social institutions, major cities involved in the arts, and the artistic achievements themselves.

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