The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that began in New York City during the 1920s and lasted through the decade. It was rooted in the African American literary community, but it also encompassed many different art forms, including poetry, fiction, music and painting.
The Harlem Renaissance was also known as “The New Negro Movement” because it represented a new spirit among African Americans who were beginning to take pride in their heritage and identity after being treated so harshly by white people for centuries.
No doubt it was a major force in the development of the “New Negro” identity: an explicit rejection of white stereotypes about black people and a celebration of African American life and culture.
Prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance include Langston Hughes (poet), Claude McKay (writer), Claude Hopkins (painter), Aaron Douglas (painter), Zora Neale Hurston (writer), Sidney Poitier (actor), Duke Ellington (musician), Josephine Baker (dancer/singer).
There were several reasons why the Harlem Renaissance took place when it did. First, World War I had just ended and many veterans returned to America with new ideas about racial equality. Second, there were more opportunities for African Americans at this time because of changes in industry and technology. Finally, there was a growing interest in African American culture among white Americans because of the popularity of jazz music from New Orleans during this time period.