Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance
Airdate February 1, 2001
Remake: September 22, 2014
Curriculum Arts & Music
Social Studies

Harlem Renaissance is a BrainPOP Arts & Music video launched on February 1, 2001.


Moby was playing on his saxophone. Tim talks about harlem renaissance.




FYI ComicsEdit

Quotables Edit


“I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong.” – Langston Hughes, African-American poet

“Nothing can go farther to destroy race prejudice than the recognition of the Negro as a creator and contributor to American civilization.” – James Weldon Johnson, African-American author

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey, Jamaican-American black nationalist

“It would be against all nature for all the Negroes to be either at the bottom, top, or in between. We will go where the internal drive carries us like everybody else. It is up to the individual.” – Zora Neale Hurston (pictured), African-American author

Famous Faces Edit


African-American activist Marcus Garvey was truly one-of-a-kind. Born in 1887, he spent his early years working and editing newspapers in his home country of Jamaica, as well as in Central America and England. And at age 27, he founded an organization called the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Its goal was to unite black people around the world—in Africa, the Caribbean, the United States, and elsewhere—into “one great body to establish a country and absolute government of their own.”

In 1916, Garvey relocated to Harlem, where he gave passionate speeches on behalf of black nationalism and started a newspaper called the Negro World. By 1920, more than a million people had joined the UNIA, and Garvey’s speeches drew many spectators to New York’s Madison Square Garden. The UNIA began a series of commercial endeavors, including a shipping line called the Black Star Line, and a corporation designed to place black-owned factories in American industrial centers.

Garvey also sought to develop the African nation of Liberia—a nation founded by freed American slaves in 1847—as the future homeland of his followers. Unfortunately, Garvey’s efforts attracted the attention of the federal government, which viewed him as an “agitator.” He was put on trial for mail fraud, sentenced to five years in federal prison, and eventually deported back to Jamaica. He continued to work toward his goal of a home country for all black people until his death in 1940.

Way Back When Edit


In 1658, Peter Stuyvesant (pictured), governor of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, established a village at the northern end of Manhattan Island. Called Nieuw Haarlem after a city in the Netherlands, it remained a rural area, populated mostly by farmers, into the early 1800s.

In this area, rich New York families—including the family of Vice President Aaron Burr—maintained summer estates by the cliffs overlooking the Hudson River, where they’d go to escape the heat and congestion of downtown New York City.

In the mid-19th century, railroad service linked Harlem to lower Manhattan, and the neighborhood started becoming more urban. Rows of brownstone townhouses were built throughout the area, and wealthy, upper-class families and their servants began moving in.

As the neighborhood flourished, apartment houses for lower-income people were also constructed. They were originally filled by white immigrants from Europe. But by the early 20th century, new subway lines drew many of these families to New York’s outer boroughs.

So, some landlords began renting their properties to African Americans as well (at the time, many of the city’s neighborhoods were unofficially segregated). The recently-built housing in Harlem was much nicer than the tenements that many black New Yorkers were forced to live in, so those who could afford it flocked uptown during the first two decades of the 20th century.

By 1914, the African-American population of the area reached an astonishing 50,000. Harlem was well on its way to becoming the “cultural capital of black America,” a title it would hold for the rest of the 20th century.

Did You Know Edit


Even in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance, racial tension simmered just beneath the surface. Occasionally, it exploded into violence. One of the most unfortunate instances occurred in Harlem on March 19, 1935. Lino Rivera, a dark-skinned Latino teenager, was caught shoplifting from a white-owned store on 125th Street.

Lino struggled with the clerks who caught him, attracting a crowd. Bystanders heard one store clerk threaten the boy's life. When the police arrived, the store owner told them to release Lino through a back entrance. Since no one saw him leave, a rumor started that he'd been killed. Things got worse when a hearse parked behind the store. The driver just wanted to chat with a relative who worked there, but the crowd assumed the worst.

The police didn't handle the situation well. They shoved people out of the store, and refused to tell the crowd what had happened to Lino. As night fell, thousands of African-Americans gathered on 125th Street. The police arrested anyone who tried to speak the crowd, and forcefully tried to break things up.

The situation escalated when someone threw a rock through the store's window. Within hours, an angry mob was smashing windows throughout the neighborhood.

By the time things calmed down the next day, 64 people had been wounded and a young boy had been shot and killed by the police. Although the riot didn't "end" the Harlem Renaissance, it's come to symbolize a turning point in the neighborhood's history. After years of cultural growth, Harlem had entered a period of rising crime and diminished opportunity that would last for decades.



Primary SourceEdit

Excerpt from The Souls of Black Folk.

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, —an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder...

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.

W. E. B. Du Bois. The Souls of Black Folk. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1903.


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