The Harlem Renaissance marked an unprecidented outburst of creativity and contribution to the arts from African-American artists during the early twentieth century. The Harlem Renaissance was not an organised movement but rather it was a period in American history at which point black America began to produce and be recognised as a force in the arts. Initially known as the 'New Negro Movement', The Harlem Renaissance was helped by the migration of blacks from the poorer southern American states to the more prosperous cities in the north such as New York, Chicago and Washington. In his 1925 book entitled "The New Negro", sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke - who coined the term Harlem Renaissance - described this migration as "something like a spiritual emancipation", implying that the effects of black poverty and slavery, so entrenched in the south, were subdued enough in the north to allow the freedom of expression enjoyed by the white communities to permiate throughout regions of black urban American.
A Chronology of Important Events and Publications
369th Regiment marched up Fifth Avenue to Harlem, February 17.
First Pan African Congress organized by W.E.B. Du Bois, Paris, February.
Race riots in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Charleston, Knoxville, Omaha, and elsewhere, June to September.
Race Relations Commission founded, September.
Marcus Garvey founded the Black Star Shipping Line.
Benjamin Brawley published The Negro in Literature and Art in the United States.
Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) Convention held at Madison Square Garden, August.
Charles Gilpin starred in Eugene O'Neill, The Emperor Jones, November.
James Weldon Johnson, first black officer (secretary) of NAACP appointed.
Claude McKay published Spring in New Hampshire.
Du Bois's Darkwater is published.
O'Neill's The Emperor Jones, starring Charles Gilpin, opens at the Provincetown Playhouse.
Shuffle Along by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, the first musical revue written and performed by African Americans (cast members include Josephine Baker and Florence Mills), opened, May 22, at Broadway's David Belasco Theater.
Marcus Garvey founded African Orthodox Church, September.
Second Pan African Congress.
Colored Players Guild of New York founded.
Benjamin Brawley published Social History of the American Negro.
First Anti-Lynching legislation approved by House of Representatives.
Publications of The Book of American Negro Poetry edited by James Weldon Johnson; Claude McKay, Harlem Shadows.
Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life is founded by the National Urban League, with Charles S. Johnson as its editor.
National Ethiopian Art Players staged The Chip Woman's Fortune by Willis Richardson, first serious play by a black writer on Broadway, May.
Claude McKay spoke at the Fourth Congress of the Third International in Moscow, June.
The Cotton Club opened, Fall.
Marcus Garvey arrested for mail fraud and sentenced to five years in prison.
Third Pan African Congress.
Publications of Jean Toomer, Cane; Marcus Garvey, Philosophy and Opinion of Marcus Garvey. 2 vols.
Civic Club Dinner, sponsored by Opportunity, bringing black writers and white publishers together, March 21. This event is considered the formal launching of of the New Negro movement.
Paul Robeson starred in O'Neill's All God's Chillun Got Wings, May 15.
Countee Cullen won first prize in the Witter Bynner Poetry Competition.
Publications of Du Bois, The Gift of Black Folk; Jessie Fauset, There is Confusion; Marcus Garvey, Aims and Objects for a Solution of the Negro Problem Outlined; Walter White, The Fire in the Flint.
Survey Graphic issue, "Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro," edited by Alain Locke and Charles Johnson, devoted entirely to black arts and letters, March.
American Negro Labor Congress held in Chicago, October.
Opportunity holds its first literary awards dinner; winners include Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Zora Neale Hurston.
The first Crisis awards ceremony is held at the Renaissance Casino; Countee Cullen wins first prize.
Publications of Cullen, Color; Du Bose Heyward, Porgy; James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, eds. The Book of American Negro Spirituals; Alain Locke, The New Negro; Sherwood Anderson, Dark Laughter (a novel showing Black life).
Countee Cullen becomes Assistant Editor of Opportunity; begins to write a regular column "The Dark Tower."
Savoy Ballroom opened in Harlem, March.
Publications of Wallace Thurman, Fire!!; Langston Hughes, The Weary Blues; Carl Van Vechten, Nigger Heaven; Eric Walrond, Tropic Death; W. C. Handy, Blues: An Anthology; and Walter White, Flight.
In Abraham's Bosom by Paul Green, with an all-black cast, won the Pulitzer Prize, May.
Ethel Waters first appeared on Broadway, July.
Marcus Garvey deported.
Louis Armstrong in Chicago and Duke Ellington in New York began their careers.
Harlem Globetrotters established.
Charlotte Mason decides to become a patron of the New Negro.
A'Lelia Walker opens a tearoom salon called "The Dark Tower."
Publications of Miguel Covarrubias, Negro Drawings; Cullen, Ballad of the Brown Girl, Copper Sun, and Caroling Dusk; Arthur Fauset, For Freedom: A Biographical Story of the American Negro; Hughes, Fine Clothes to the Jew; James Weldon Johnson, God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (reprint of the 1912 edition); Alain Locke and Montgomery T. Gregory, eds. Plays of Negro Life.
Countee Cullen marries Nina Yolande, daughter of W.E.B. Du Bois, April 9; described as the social event of the decade.
Publications of Wallace Thurman, Harlem: A Forum of Negro Life; Du Bois, The Dark Princess; Rudolph Fisher, The Walls of Jericho; Nella Larsen, Quicksand; Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun; Claude McKay, Home to Harlem.
Negro Experimental Theatre founded, February; Negro art Theatre founded, June; National Colored Players founded, September.
Wallace Thurman's play Harlem, written with William Jourdan Rapp, opens at the Apollo Theater on Broadway and becomes hugely successful.
Black Thursday, October 29, Stock Exchange crash.
Publications of Cullen, The Black Christ and Other Poems;Claude McKay, Banjo; Nella Larsen, Passing; Wallace Thurman, The Blacker the Berry; and Walter White, Rope and Faggot: The Biography of Judge Lynch.
The Green Pastures (musical), with an all-black cast, opened on Broadway, February 26.
Universal Holy Temple of Tranquillity founded; Black Muslims opened Islam Temple in Detroit.
Publications of Randolph Edmonds, Shades and Shadows; Charles S. Johnson, The Negro in American Civilization: A Study of Negro Life and Race Relations; James Weldon Johnson. Black Manhattan; Langston Hughes, Not Without Laughter.
Scottsboro trial, April through July.
A'Lelia Walker dies, August 16.
Publications of Arna Bontemps, God Sends Sunday; Jessie Fauset, The Chinaberry Tree; Langston Hughes, Dear Lovely Death, The Negro Mother, Not Without Laughter, Scottsboro Limited; Vernon Loggins, The Negro Author: His Development in America to 1900; George S. Schuyler, Black No More; and Toomer, Essentials.
Twenty young black intellectuals travel to Russia to make a movie, Black and White, June.
Mass defection of blacks from the Republican party began.
Publications of Sterling Brown, Southern Road; Cullen, One Way to Heaven; Rudolph Fisher, The Conjure Man Dies; Hughes, The Dream Keeper; Claude McKay, Ginger Town; Schuyler, Slaves Today; Thurman, Infants of the Spring.
National Negro Business League ceased operations after 33 years.
Publications of Jessie Fauset, Comedy, American Style; James Weldon Johnson, Along This Way; McKay, Banana Bottom.
Rudolph Fisher and Wallace Thurman die within four days of each other, December 22 and 26.
W.E.B. Du Bois resigns from The Crisis and NAACP.
Apollo Theatre opened.
Publications of Arna Bontemps, You Can't Pet a Possum; Randolph Edmonds, Six Plays for the Negro Theatre; Hughes, The Ways of White Folks; Zora Neale Hurston, Jonah's Gourd Vine; James Weldon Johnson, Negro Americans: What Now?; George Lee, Beale Street: Where the Blues Began.
Harlem Race Riot, March 19.
Porgy and Bess, with an all-black cast, opens on Broadway, October 10.
Mulatto by Langston Hughes, first full-length play by a black writer, opens on Broadway, October 25.
50 percent of Harlem's families unemployed.
Publications of Cullen, The Medea and Other Poems; Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men; Willis Richardson and May Sullivan, Negro History in Thirteen Plays.
Publications of McKay, Long Way From Home; Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Publication of Hurston, Moses: Man of the Mountain.
Publications of Hughes The Big Sea; McKay, Harlem: Negro Metropolis.