Skip to Content

Harlem Renaissance

A period of musical, literary, and cultural proliferation that began in New York’s African-American community during the 1920s and early 1930s. The movement was key to developing a new sense of Black identity and aesthetics as writers, visual artists, and musicians articulated new modes of African-American experience and experimented with artistic forms, modernist techniques, and folk culture. Harlem Renaissance artists and activists also influenced French and Caribbean Négritude and Negrismo movements in addition to laying a foundation for future Black Arts champions like Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka. Writing luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance include Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Nella Larsen, and Arna Bontemps. Important publications included the anthology The New Negro (1925), edited by Alan Locke, and the magazines Crisis, Opportunity, Fire!!, and the Messenger. See also Hughes’s essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926) and Elizabeth Alexander’s more recent historical article “The Black Poet as Canon-Maker”. Browse more Harlem Renaissance poets. 

Looking to learn about poetry?
  • Check out our Learn area, where we have separate offerings for children, teens, adults, and educators.