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Harlem Renaissance

During and after World War I, many African Americans from the rural South moved into northern cities.  This Great Migration was motivated by the prospect of jobs. African Americans became increasingly hopeful of racial equality and they expressed that hope in the arts.

The Harlem neighborhood in New York City became home for many African Americans migrating north. During the 1920s it was the center of black culture in the United States.  This Harlem Renaissance bloomed at theaters, art galleries, and jazz clubs, drawing both black and white audiences.

One of the most important authors during the Harlem Renaissance was Langston Hughes.  Originally from Kansas, Hughes produced more than 60 books.  He communicated the conditions of black life to diverse audiences.  Aaron Douglas, also of Kansas, used African designs in his paintings.  He became an influential artist, with illustrations published in major magazines and books.  Receiving national and international recognition in this same time period but not directly linked to the Harlem Renaissance was choral director Eva Jessye.

Other Kansans associated with the Harlem Renaissance:

Frank Marshall Davis, writer

Nora Douglas Holt, musician

Charlie Parker, musician

Portions from The Kansas Journey.

Entry: Harlem Renaissance

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2011

Date Modified: May 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.