Harlem 1900-1940: An African-American Community

An introduction to the exhibition





Writers & Intellectuals

Harlem Renaissance
AfricanAmericans.com - Harlem Jazz Festival 1958

Harlem Jazz Festival 1958

The famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York

What was the Harlem Renaissance?

AfricanAmericans.com - Harlem Renaissance, Countee Cullen"From 1920 until about 1930 an unprecedented outburst of creative activity among African Americans occurred in all fields of art. Beginning as a series of literary discussions in the lower Manhattan (Greenwich Village) and upper Manhattan (Harlem) sections of New York City, this African American cultural movement became known as "The New Negro Movement" and later as the Harlem Renaissance. More than a literary movement and more than a social revolt against racism, the Harlem Renaissance exalted the unique culture of African Americans and redefined African American expression. African Americans were encouraged to celebrate their heritage and to become "The New Negro," a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke.

One of the factors contributing to the rise of the Harlem Renaissance was the great migration of African Americans to northern cities (such as New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.) between 1919 and 1926. In his influential book The New Negro (1925), Locke described the northward migration of blacks as "something like a spiritual emancipation." Black urban migration, combined with trends in American society as a whole toward experimentation during the 1920s, and the rise of radical black intellectuals including Locke, Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and W. E. B. Du Bois, editor of The Crisis magazine all contributed to the particular styles and unprecedented success of black artists during the Harlem Renaissance period." [http://encarta.msn.com/schoolhouse/harlem/harlem.asp]

AfricanAmericans.com - Harlem Renaissance Street scene, 1939.Sid Grossman

Personalities of the Harlem Renaissance

Baker, Josephine | Barnes, Albert C. | Bennett, Gwendolyn | Blake, Eubie | Bonner, Marita | Bontemps, Arna | Brathwaite, William | Brown, Sterling | Covarrubias, Miguel | Cullen, Countee | Cuney, Waring | Domingo, Wilfrid A. | Douglas, Aaron | Du Bois, W.E.B. | Edmonds, Randolph | Fauset, Arthur | Fauset, Jessie | Fisher, Rudolph | Garvey, Marcus | Gilpin, Charles | Grimke, Angelina | Hughes, Langston | Hurston, Zora Neale | Johnson, Charles S. | Johnson, Helene | Johnson, James W. | Larsen, Nella | Locke, Alain | Loggins, Vernon | Lee, George | Mason, Charlotte Osgood | Matheus, John | McKay, Claude | Mills, Florence | Nugent, Richard Bruce | Ovington, Mary White | Patterson, Louise Thompson | Richardson, Willis | Robeson, Paul | Schomburg, Arthur Alfonso | Schuyler, George Samuel | Spencer, Anne | Sissle, Noble | Thompson, Eloise | Walker, A'Lelia | Thurman, Wallace | Toomer, Jean | Van Vechten, Carl | Walrond, Eric | West, Dorothy | White, Walter

A Chronology of Important Events and Publications


  • 369th Regiment (Harlem Hellfighters) 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

1937 Publications of McKay, Long Way From Home; Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

1939 Publication of Hurston, Moses: Man of the Mountain.

1940 Publications of Hughes The Big Sea; McKay, Harlem: Negro Metropolis.

(Information for the above chronology is from Kellner, Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era and Watson, The Harlem Renaissance.)

African Americans - Harlem Renaissance - Claude McKay Claude McKay
African Americans - Harlem Renaissance - Langston Hughes Langston Hughes
African Americans - Harlem Renaissance - Jean Toomer Jean Toomer
African Americans - Harlem Renaissance - James Weldon Johnson James Weldon Johnson
Additional Resources:

Harlem Renaissance Once considered to be literary in nature, but now includes artists and musicians. There isn't much direct information here, but there are pointers to sources from which it can be obtained. http://www.usc.edu/Library/Ref/Ethnic/harlem.html
Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro
Survey Graphic was the monthly illustrated number of Survey magazine, the leading journal of social work in America in the 1920s. This extensive site is the electronic edition for March 1925. Many topics are covered, including women, religion, culture, and social patterns.

African Americans in the Visual Arts: A Historical Perspective This site presents information on the "Harlem Renaissance," as well as biographies of several important African American artists.

Harlem 1900 - 1940 Exhibition
Scroll down to the center of the page for a section on the artists of Harlem during the era of the Harlem Renaissance. The list encompasses visual andperforming arts.

Harlem Renaissance
Explore the African American cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. This great website includes information on the visual arts, performing arts, and literature of the movement.

The Harlem Renaissance
A "Crash Course" on the Harlem Renaissance. Learn about the art, history, music and literature of the movement. Offered in English, French and Spanish. A nicely done and informative website.

Rhapsodies in Black
Click through several title pages to get to some great images of the art of the Harlem Renaissance.

African Canadian Online What a good site! Find facts, "firsts", history, music, art, and literature here. Be prepared for a long visit. http://www.yorku.ca/research/aconline/
Black Presence, The
A gallery of pictures accompanied by brief description of famous Blacks in Canadian history.

Black Studies Centre Online
The contributions of the black community to the history and development of Montreal, Quebec and the rest of Canada. There's a brief, but interesting biography of Mathew Da Costa, a member of the 1606 Poutrincourt-Champlain Expedition.

Buxton Historic Site and Settlement
Now known as Buxton, the Elgin Settlement is one of the few remaining Black Canadian settlements still in existence since the pre-Civil War era. This is the history of a Canadian community established as a haven for blacks escaping slavery in the United States.

McGill News
This article is titled "The Complex Face of Black Canada". In it you'll find some interesting facts and some opinions based on the author's personal experience as an Africadian.

Some Missing Pages
The Black Community in the History of Quebec and Canada. Some interesting stories, essays, and information about Canada's black citizens and their contributions to the country.

The Savoy Ballroom

The Cotton Club

The Lafayette Theater

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Spotlight | Maze

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 

As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.


The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)

Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪



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