Looking at Billie Holiday last time inspired me to look at more pop culture from the Harlem Renaissance. To go along with music, there was a lot of African inspiration in the popular dance crazes. Some of the most noted dances were the shimmy (which is exactly what you think), the cakewalk (which originated on Florida plantations, mimics the solemn walk of the Seminoles, and was put in competitions where the winning slave got a piece of cake), the Charleston (combination of European steps, African movements, and jazz music) and the Lindy Hop (like the Charleston but more even in rhythm and less improvised). This video is of the Lindy Hop recorded in the late Harlem Renaissance period. Isn’t amazing what these dancers do?
Billie Holiday is a wonderful singer-songwriter that had her peak popularity streak in the 1950’s but got her start during the 1920’s in Harlem. She began her “apprenticeship” under the jazz/blues singer Bessie Smith, singing in the nightclubs of Harlem. During the 1920s, Billie Holiday was most noted for singing the song “Strange Fruit;” a protest song against lynching (and race violence in general).
here are a few links to listen to her beautiful voice:
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the followers of this Tumblr. It’s (obviously) not being updated at the moment, but the next time I teach a course on the Harlem Renaissance, I will have the students revive this space and resume posting interesting material. It’s great to know there’s still interest in this amazing period in cultural history.
When I look at this picture, what comes to my mind is the novel “Home to Harlem.” The women within this picture depict what I imagine the women of the novel to be like. The women are flaunting around in there well dressed manner gaining the attention of the men that surround them. The character that pops into mind when looking at this picture is Felice. She stood out most in the book to the main character Jake and the lady in the red stands out most to me while observing this picture.
This is a pic of the Harlem Rens. Another famous team during this time is the Harlem Globetrotters. The Harlem Rens were the to win a championship with all black players, which is a major accomplishment for the African Americans. The Harlem Globetrotters was a team that was used for entertainment of the white society. As an avid basketball fan, i can see the differences in the uniforms compared to today’s uniforms differences, basketball was a major accomplishment for the African Americans, especially since they won a world championship during the Harlem Renaissance. This is something we didn’t discuss during class, but I still find sports important during this time, because it was an activity that they were able to do that made a difference and contributed to African Americans progression.
Lady, Lady, I saw your face,
Dark as night withholding a star …
The chisel fell, or it might have been
You had borne so long the yoke of men.
Lady, Lady, I saw your hands,
Twisted, awry, like crumpled roots,
Bleached poor white in a sudsy tub,
Wrinkled and drawn from your rub-a-dub.
Lady, Lady, I saw your heart,
And altered there in its darksome place
Were the tongues of flames the ancients knew,
Where the good God sits to spangle through.
This is probably one of my favorite poems due to all the nature metaphors that are used. It also covers some major course themes that we have discussed during class, such as oppression and equality. Even though it wasn’t assigned for class, everyone should still read it.
Check out the history behind women’s suffrage and the events that led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Find out how women got the right to vote.
I used this source for my research paper and found it very interesting. Women’s suffrage started long before the Harlem Renaissance. Don’t know what everyone is writing about, but decided to post this in case it could be useful.
As we spoke about in class, one key topic of the Harlem Renaissance was motherhood. In many of our stories being a mother meant hardships. This is what Nella Larsen wrote about it in a quote I found, ” I think being a mother is the cruelest thing in the world.” Harsh words, but this is how many women felt at the time.
Dawn in New York. - I liked this poem because it didn’t paint a pretty picture, it speaks of the unresting city and the people who are always about, essentially to me it suggests no peace.
The Dawn! The Dawn! The crimson-tinted, comes
Out of the low still skies, over the hills,
Manhattan’s roofs and spires and cheerless domes!
The Dawn! My spirit to its spirit thrills.
Almost the mighty city is asleep,
No pushing crowd, no tramping, tramping feet.
But here and there a few cars groaning creep
Along, above, and underneath the street,
Bearing their strangely-ghostly burdens by,
The women and the men of garish nights,
Their eyes wine-weakened and their clothes awry,
Grotesques beneath the strong electric lights.
The shadows wane. The Dawn comes to New York.
And I go darkly-rebel to my work.Claude McKay