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The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual, social, and artistic explosion centered in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, spanning the 1920s. At the time, it was known as the “New Negro Movement”, named after The New Negro, a 1925 anthology edited by Alain Locke. The movement also included the new African-American cultural expressions across the urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States affected by the Great Migration, of which Harlem was the largest.

Though it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood, many francophone black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the movement,which spanned from about 1918 until the mid-1930s. Many of its ideas lived on much longer. The zenith of this “flowering of Negro literature”, as James Weldon Johnson preferred to call the Harlem Renaissance, took place between 1924—when Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life hosted a party for black writers where many white publishers were in attendance—and 1929, the year of the stock-market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. The Harlem Renaissance is considered to have been a rebirth of the African-American arts.

Prince Hall – The First Black Masonic Lodge

The First black Masonic Lodge

The First black Masonic Lodge

The First black Masonic Lodge was founded at Prince Hall, Boston, in 1787.  It was named after Prince Hall, who is recognized as the Father of Black Masonry in the United States. He made it possible for African Americans to also be recognized and enjoy all privileges of Free and Accepted Masonry.

Many rumors of the birth of Prince Hall have arisen. Few records and papers have been found of him either in Barbados where it was rumored that he was born, but no record of birth, by church or state, has been found there, and none in Boston. All 11 countries of the day were searched and churches with baptismal records were examined without a find of the name of Prince Hall.  Continue reading

Eliza Ann Gardner

African_Methodist_Episcopal_Zion_LogoEliza Ann Gardner is regarded as the “mother” of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Missionary Society and was one of New England’s most tenacious defenders of women’s equality in religious matters.

She was born in New York City on May 28, 1831, the daughter of James and Eliza Gardner. When she was young, the family moved to the predominantly black West End section of Boston, where her father enjoyed a profitable career as a contractor for sailing vessels. His work made it possible for Gardner to enjoy a comfortable childhood, but she quickly learned that many others of her race were less fortunate, and was taught that she had an obligation to help them. Her family was active in the local African Methodist Episcopal Church, and their home served as a station for the Underground Railroad, which smuggled runaway slaves from the South to freedom.

Gardner’s interest in slavery intensified because of her education at the only public school for black children in the city, which was taught by abolitionist teachers. As a result, she became acquainted with many nationally famous abolitionist leaders. An excellent student, Gardner earned a number of scholarships. However, as few black women at the time were able to pursue higher education or professional careers, she learned the art of dressmaking to support herself once she finished school.  Continue reading

Charles Wesley

Charles H. Wesley

Charles H. Wesley

12-02 marks the birthday of Charles Harris Wesley in 1891. He was an African-American historian, educator, and minister who was an early proponent of African-American studies.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Charles Wesley attended public schools in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and then went on to receive a B. A. at Fisk University in 1911, an M. A. in economics at Yale University in 1913, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1925. Wesley’s doctorate in history was the third awarded by Harvard to an African-American. Wesley served on the Howard University faculty from 1913 to 1942.  Continue reading

Hanging of Nat Turner

Nat Turner, the leader of a bloody slave revolt in Southampton County, Virginia, was hanged in Jerusalem, the county seat on November 11, 1831′hanging

Turner, a slave and educated minister, believed that he was chosen by God to lead his people out of slavery. On August 21, 1831, he initiated his slave uprising by slaughtering Joseph Travis, his slave owner, and Travis’ family. With seven followers, Turner set off across the countryside, hoping to rally hundreds of slaves to join his insurrection. Turner planned to capture the county armory at Jerusalem, Virginia, and then march 30 miles to Dismal Swamp, where his rebels would be able to elude their pursuers.  Continue reading

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