period: 1910s-30s (some critics extend to extra phases or generations)
How it starts or develops: Large numbers of rural and southern African Americans move to northern cities in early 20th century, partly to escape segregation, partly for economic opportunity created by World War 1 (1914-18).
Formerly isolated artists and intellectuals meet, share ideas, cooperate on shows and publishing.
How it ends: Great Depression in 1929 wrecked patronage system and "fat of the land" on which a movement like the Harlem Renaissance survived, writers dispersed. (As with American Renaissance, though, most of the chief writers survived this period and kept writing, but less as a movement.)
Other terms or names for Harlem Renaissance:
"The New Negro Renaissance"--this term was used frequently during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. (p. 2096 Alain Locke, The New Negro, 1925)
"The African American Renaissance"
Advantages of other names: Renaissance wasn't limited to Harlem; authentic widespread historical usage.
Disadvantages of other names: Many avoid "Negro" except in a historical sense, often with "air quotes."
--African American Renaissance is inclusive but drier and duller. People remember "Harlem Renaissance" because it sounds like something real, has specificity and flavor, whereas "African American Renaissance" sounds like a scholarly construct. (Cf. "Regionalism" and "Local Color.")
Other continuing critical issues:
Was audience black or white? If both, how to reconcile different traditions and forms?
Need for white support and patronage may have distorted styles.
Major figures or writers:
Zora Neale Hurston
Jessie Redmon Faucet
James Weldon Johnson
Politics / Activism:
Hubert Harrison, Liberty League, The Voice
W. E. B. Du Bois
A. Philip Randolph
John Carroll University multimedia site on Harlem Renaissance
Artlex site on Harlem Renaissance visual art