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The Harlem Renaissance, the period associated with the flowering of the arts in Harlem, inaugurated a tradition of African American children's literature, for the movement's central writers made youth both their subject and audience.

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Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Langston Hughes, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and other Harlem Renaissance figures took an impassioned interest in the literary models offered to children, believing that the "New Negro" would ultimately arise from black youth. As a result, African American children's literature became a crucial medium through which a disparate community forged bonds of cultural, economic, and aesthetic solidarity.

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Kate Capshaw Smith explores the period's vigorous exchange about the nature and identity of black childhood and uncovers the networks of African American philosophers, community activists, schoolteachers, and literary artists who worked together to transmit black history and culture to the next generation. Children's Literature of the Harlem Renaissance. Katharine Capshaw Smith. It was popular because it attempted to correct what historian Carter G.

Woodson had called, in his new book, The Miseducation of the Negro.

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  • School teachers and community playwrights were teaching children African American history through these productions, concluding them with an invitation to the children to keep the scroll rolling by writing our history. If they were sold out, your intent might have been to catch one of the new films by Oscar Michaux- -films that were working against all the media stereotypes of African Americans. You might have had to be sure that the films were offered at a time that didn't interfere with your appointment for a family portrait, at the studio of famous photographer, James VanDerZee.

    It was a time of new beginnings--what black philosopher Alain Locke called the day of the "New Negro" in his famous publication of that time. A new spirit of creativity was in the air.

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    It was a day of unprecedented achievements in music, the arts, dance, literature and growth in African American churches. Looking back to this time through 21st Century lenses, it is possible to miss the significance of what Africans throughout the world were doing, particularly when it is compared to what is available today. However it was the s, just a few decades since four million African Americans left slavery with almost nothing. Throughout the decades between the Civil War and the Harlem Renaissance, images of African Americans in the media were mostly contained in "darkie rhymes," "coon songs" and such racist productions as "A Trip to Coontown" and "Bandanna Land.

    Nothing on this scale of African American achievement had been able to express itself before.

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    It was during this time that about , black soldiers fought in World War I, and returned unwilling to accept the "Jim Crow" system that made separate but equal legal. This had set off a series of race riots in what had been the "Red Summer" of This opened a new era of struggle for human rights that would eventually escalate into the midth Century phase of the Civil Rights Movement. Then, as early as the second year of World War I, the number of immigrants from Europe suddenly dropped dramatically, and this opened Northern industrial jobs to blacks that had been closed to them before.

    Northern industrialists recruited in newspapers such as The Chicago Daily Defender and as many as two million people fled the South for these jobs in less than four years. They fled the Ku Klux Klan, "Jim Crow," lynching and the sharecropping system in the South that had reduced them to near slavery. They came to find jobs in the North where they could earn as much in one day as they had been able to earn before in one month. It was a time when James Weldon Johnson had already written "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and it contained images of our ancestors praying for this beautiful resurrection that was taking place.

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    While the Great Depression marked the decline of what has been labeled the Harlem Renaissance, the ideas and Spirit of Kuumba did not die. It was only to be resurrected again in the Black Arts Movement of the s.

    She goes into her Aunt Ellie's attic and tries on a shimmering lavender dress like the ones in the pictures she saw in her family's photo album. She is magically transported back to Harlem in the s, with her cousin Norma, who becomes a reporter and goes to "cover" a Louis Armstrong performance. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson. Bound for Glory From the Great Migration to the Harlem Renaissance by Kerry Candaele, Spencer Crew and Clayborne Carson contains 40 photographs of the period and gives teenagers an overview of the social context in which the Renaissance took place. They provide an overview of poetry, music, novels, theater and visual arts of the period. A good reference book to have in your library is Extraordinary People of the Harlem Renaissance by P.

    Stephen Hardy and Sheila Jackson Hardy. It features 44 individuals from the period, with portrait photographs and as many as two pages each of information about each person. In Langston Hughes: Poet of the Harlem Renaissance , Christine Hill presents a detailed biography of the poet, emphasizing the achievements of his later life. Ayana Karanja, reads between the lines of Hurston's works to give a fresh look at this artist.