February 28, 2011
The Daily Renaissance
Find out What You’re Missing! Jean Toomer Artist of the Month:
His life story…
James Van Der Zee The Harlem Renaissance and all its Glory…
Table of Contents Table of Contents……………………………………………………………………………Page 2 What is the Harlem Renaissance?………………..………………………………………….Page 3 a. Written by: Ryan Interview…………………………………………………………………………………….Page 4 a. Interview with Jean Toomer b. Written by: Ryan Art Spread…………………………………………………………………………………...Page 7 a. Artist of the Month: James Van Der Zee b. Designed by: Derrick & Darius Advertisement……………………………………………………………………………….Page 8 a. The Place to Be: The Lincoln Theatre b. Created by: Derrick Citations……………………………………………………………………………………..Page 9
2|Page-The Daily Renaissance
What is the Harlem Renaissance? Perhaps you have heard of the Renaissance, a period after the Dark Ages that brought hope and prosperity – and new technologies and ways of thinking – to many people, at least temporarily. The Harlem Renaissance was much the same, and it happened right here in the United States. It was a period of great growth for the arts – painting, photography, literature, poetry, music, and more – for African Americans. It was centered in Harlem, a district of New York, New York, and it reached its peak during the 1920s. It all began with the Great Migration, which was the movement of a large number of people, especially African Americans, to the North after the Civil War devastated the South. These people sought new lives – and jobs.
Many of these people moved to the big cities where the factories were, as the industrial age was beginning around this time. Harlem ended up being a neighborhood with a relatively large population of African Americans. These people became the founders of the Harlem Renaissance. The many potential artists, musicians, and writers, such as but not limited to Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington Zora Neale Hurston, and Jean Toomer, enjoyed their new freedoms in places like New York, and their works spread.
Langston Hughes Harlem ended up drawing attention from whites as well, including people who had money and influence. Many enjoyed the new culture created by Harlem and the “New Negroes.” Quite a few now-famous African Americans moved to Hollywood or Europe after having their talents seen by influential people. Unfortunately, even the power of the arts could not completely undo the tension between whites and African Americans at the time – in fact, most African Americans did not prefer the whites' 3|Page-The Daily Renaissance
presence in Harlem, as they seemed like outsiders or invaders to the tight-knit community. Perhaps it could have had not the Harlem Renaissance been cut short by the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s (although some still kept up their work even during economic hardship). However, it did pave the way to the Civil Rights Movement, ultimately giving freedom for all in the United States, as well as giving African Americans a strong cultural identity.
Interview An Interview with Visionary Jean Toomer Many writers have an aim. They ask themselves a question. Perhaps they want to show how their life was when they grew up. Or perhaps they wish to show their opinion on an important matter. Perhaps they simply wish to give their readers a good belly laugh. However, some writers seek the truth. These literary philosophers strive to find the answers to the facets of life, and many of them also attempt to connect the physical and spiritual worlds together cohesively. Jean Toomer, a fledgling poet and philosopher of such a type, agreed to an interview at his apartment in Harlem, New York City. It was a lazy, rainy afternoon when I walked up the steps to the quite ordinary complex he currently resides at. I felt a strange tension in me as I waited for the elevator. Mr. Toomer's recently released book Cane has been largely ignored by esteemed critics, but apparently the few whom have given it notice have deemed it a remarkable, if controversial, exploration of issues and ideas plaguing Americans, especially African Americans, today. Several writers claim that it is what jump-started the Harlem Renaissance in the first place. I had interviewed several famous (and infamous) persons beforehand, but here was a man who could change someone's entire outlook on life with a few strikes of the typewriter. By the time I had reached the floor Mr. Toomer resided on, I had a least a million questions buzzing in my head. My knock on his apartment door is quickly answered. The door opens slightly, and a slight, middle-aged man greets me. He confirms who I am, and he opens the door fully. He quickly closes the door as I walk in after a quick look outside. His smile is terse, but his handshake is amiable and would make a salesman proud. The apartment is unremarkable and speaks of a tidy middle-class man. His hair is clipped and he is well-dressed, giving the appearance of one whom is educated, which is not at all surprising to me. I set up my recording equipment, and we begin the interview. "Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I understand it may be difficult to fit this into your busy schedule," I begin in order to break the ice. "Oh no, thank you, Mr. Brown. I believe more people need to know what has led me to publish the works I have. I want people to know what I have seen and learned. I assume you have heard of my collection, Cane?" "Yes, I have, and I have also heard of the remarkable effects it has had on its readers. What inspired you to write Cane?" "Ah, that is quite a long story, but I will keep it short. In 1922, I moved to Sparta, Georgia to work as a school principal. This visit to the South was quite moving to me. It was here," continued Toomer, accenting his words with hand motions, "that my ancestors had staked their claim on this world, lived, and toiled. I found it quite different from the self-organizing chaos of the urban North. It was as if I was in a new world, albeit one with the same kinds of people." "What views and realizations specifically did you try to express in Cane?"
4|Page-The Daily Renaissance
"I wanted, in part, to show what a number of American writers have been trying to show for years, starting with the Transcendentalists - that the societal norm is not what should actually be the norm. Call me a communist, but for many, the American Dream is not possible to realize, as so many are so enraptured by the call of money and material. Very few stop to simply think, so busy they are with their breakneck lives. I also wanted to tie in Cane with my African ancestry while at the same time showing that race should not be what defines a man or woman, so I specifically focused on the point of view of the negro to best exemplify this." "That's quite extraordinary. I can see why your stories have been the subject of so much controversy, and in a good way. You seem to have struck a sore nerve with more conservative American writers and critics." "That was entirely the point," he added matter-of-factly. "Can I ask if there were any other experiences or people in your life that led you to write Cane?" "One of the main things is the fact that my multiracial heritage has affected my entire life. I am, in fact, one-eighth black. I have the appearance of a white man, and I am indeed like any other man of any race, but according to the law, I am just a negro and should be treated as such. I attended both an all-white school and an all-black school during my childhood. Both of them were well-funded and contained great and intelligent students and teachers, but the average American views the two as so different. Besides that, there are a thousand other experiences, but nothing else moved me as much as a man named Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff. He is a true thinker, and in fact I will soon be going to one of his schools to learn his philosophy. He teaches that one must learn to integrate the physical, emotion, and intellectual into one seamless thing to see the world clearly. I wish to learn how to do this, and I certainly wouldn't mind if others also strived to do this." "That is certainly enlightening. Where did you hear of such a teacher? In fact, how did you enter the literary and philosophical scene in the beginning?" He chuckles. "To answer the first question, one of Gurdjieff's representatives, A. R. Orage, informed me about him making a tour in America. Intrigued, I viewed one of Gurdjieff's performances. What I saw moved me, to put it simply. It inspired me greatly. To answer your second question, I acquired a taste in literature during a relatively brief stay in Chicago." "You mentioned earlier that you were trying to express the point that people of all races are equal, but you also said you have an interest in African heritage. Don't the two ideas contradict?" "Oh, not at all, Mr. Brown. There is a large difference between equality and culture. All men are equal, but all men also have different ancestors. We should embrace our heritage, but not at the expense of others. It is difficult to balance the two, but we must." "Thank you for your time, Mr. Toomer. It's been a pleasure talking to you." "Thank you, Mr. Brown, for listening to my ramblings," he says while we shake hands. "Ramblings? Your words may change the way we live and think, Mr. Toomer."
5|Page-The Daily Renaissance
Unsuspecting from The Collected Poems of Jean Toomer There is a natty kind of mind That slicks its thoughts, Culls its oughts, Trims its views, Prunes its trues, And never suspects it is a rind. This poem is short and sweet. It is not particularly metaphorical or philosophical, so it is easy to get its message. This poem basically says that some people do not realize that, to put it bluntly, they do not think as well or as clearly as others. It can also be referring to people who are arrogant and full of themselves, and they never see this as wrong. It can also be interpreted as saying that people who never spend some time on self-reflection end up that way. This goes back to Jean Toomer's opinion on the American's societal views and values versus what they actually should be. Few stop to think about if they are doing what would actually be worthwhile, or if they are just stuck in a routine rut. Since he is a follower and student of G. I. Gurdjieff, this would make sense, as Gurdjieff is a strong advocate of reflection and "purification" of the mind and body. He also teaches against being too attached to material goods and pride.
6|Page-The Daily Renaissance
Artist of the Month… James Van Der Zee was born on June 29, 1886 in Lenox, Massachusetts. Van Der Zee is one of the first and most important African American photographers founded. He purchased his first camera which inspired him to teach himself to become a photographer in 1899. His self-taught career was strong around the 1920’s to 1930’s. During that time, he was well known for photographing families, weddings and individuals in the Harlem Renaissance. He also photographed celebrities back then, including Marcus Garvey, Jack Johnson, Counte Cullen, and Father Devine. James Van Der Zee later died in Washington, DC on May 15, 1983 at the age of 96.
“Marcus Garvey” By James Van Der Zee “Portrait” By James Van Der Zee
“The Black Yankees” “The Barefoot Prophet” 7|Page-The Daily Renaissance By James Van Der Zee
By James Van Der Zee
The Lincoln Theatre…
Is the Place to Be!
The Lincoln Theatre was designed by Reginald Geare with the help of Harry Crandall. It was finally opened in 1922. The theatre was sold in 1927 to A.E. Lichtman who turned it into a movie house and ballroom. It was here that the ballroom attracted performers such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Cab Calloway who all stole the spotlight.
Located: 1215 U Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
“Come Out and See the Stars Tonight!”
8|Page-The Daily Renaissance
Bibliography Cover Page - Visuals Luxe, William M. Haute Couture Art Inspiration...William H. Johnson. William Malcolm Luxe Collection, 2 July 2009. 28 Feb. 2011. <http://www.williammalcolmcollection.com/blog/?p=424>. Page 3 - Introductory Article “A New Cultural Identity – The Harlem Renaissance.” McDougal Littell Inc.: New York, 2006. Page 4 - Interview Anonymous. "Jean Toomer." Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. Academy of American Poets, 2011. 28 Feb. 2011. <http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/71>. Anonymous. "Jean Toomer's Life and Career." Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois. American Council of Learned Societies, 1999. 28 Feb. 2011. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/toomer/life.htm>. Anonymous. The JEAN TOOMER PAGES. Buffalo, NY Mathematics Department, May 1996. 28 Feb. 2011. <http://www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/toomer/jean-toomer.html>. Page 5 - Art Spread - Biography “James Van Der Zee.” ESPER. 2002. 25 February 2011. <http://www.esperstamps.org/aa59.htm>. Page 5 - Art Spread - Visuals "James VanDerZee." University of Hartford's Academic Web Server. 25 Feb. 2011 <http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/WEINSWIG/JamesVanDerZee/James_VanDerZee.htm>. Page 6 - Advertisement "Lincoln Theatre (Washington, D.C.)." Lincoln Theatre (Washington, D.C.). 4 Feb. 2011. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 25 Feb. 2011 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Theatre_%28Washington,_D.C.%29>. Back Cover – Visuals Luxe, William M. Haute Couture Art Inspiration...William H. Johnson. William Malcolm Luxe Collection, 2 July 2009. 28 Feb. 2011. <http://www.williammalcolmcollection.com/blog/?p=424>.
9|Page-The Daily Renaissance
Created By: Michaelah Richardson Ryan Neal Derrick Rogers Darius Jones 10 | P a g e - T h e D a i l y R e n a i s s a n c e