Harlem Renaissance Lesson for Kids: Timeline & Facts

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

The Harlem Renaissance was a period of time in the early 1900s when African-American music, literature, and art flourished. In this lesson, learn about the events of the Harlem Renaissance, and discover how this cultural movement had an impact on the civil rights of African-Americans.

Travel to Harlem

Sadly, there was a period of time in the United States where African-Americans were not treated fairly. Many people believed that this was not right, and in the early 1900s there were efforts to bring change to the country. While there were marches and protests happening in different parts of the United States, something was happening in New York that was a little different.

Do you like music, art, and great stories? If so, you would definitely want to travel back in time to the Harlem Renaissance. This was a period of time when African-American art flourished in an area of New York City known as Harlem. Let's find out how and why this special time in American history developed, and how it impacted life all over the country.

The Writing

The Harlem Renaissance began around 1918, and a significant part of the movement was the writing that was produced by famous authors like Langston Hughes. His poetry was first published in 1921 in a magazine, and he went on to write many more poems, novels, and plays. His writing gave insight into the experiences that African-Americans faced in the United States.

Langston Hughes was a famous writer, and much of his work was published during the Harlem Renaissance.
Langston Hughes

Another writer who contributed to the Harlem Renaissance was Zora Neale Hurston, who wrote many novels from the perspective of African-American women. W.E.B. DuBois was a writer and editor of the magazine that published many of the pieces written by Harlem Renaissance writers.

Music and Theater

While some things happening during the Harlem Renaissance were tense, other events were more joyous. In 1923, a famous night club called the Cotton Club opened. Many famous musicians performed there. Jazz was a new type of music that was performed by talented African-Americans like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

Louis Armstrong was a famous Harlem Renaissance musician.
Cotton Club

If people in Harlem weren't dancing to jazz at the Cotton Club, they might have been attending a play on a Saturday night. Many plays during the Renaissance were written, produced, and performed by African-Americans. The influence of this movement went beyond Harlem as well, and during this time many African-American actors and playwrights were involved in Broadway productions in New York City.

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