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American Odyssey: The 20th Century and Beyond Glencoe Online
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Web Activity Lesson Plan
Chapter 12: A Prospering Society
"The Harlem Renaissance"


Students have read about the African American literary and artistic movement that came to be known as the Harlem Renaissance. In this exercise, students will research the people that lived in Harlem and produced the works of the Harlem Renaissance.

Lesson Description

Students will use information from the Harlem 1900–1940 Web site to learn about the important figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Students will read about activists, businesspeople, artists, community leaders, sports players, writers, and intellectuals. The site also provides photos and a time line of events. Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by writing a short essay that describes how the Harlem Renaissance impacted American culture.

Instructional Objectives

  1. Students will identify several important figures of the Harlem Renaissance and describe how their works impacted American culture.
  2. Students will be able to use this knowledge to write a short essay that describes the impact of the Harlem Renaissance on the art, music, and literature of American society.

Student Activity Answers

  1. Edited by W.E.B. DuBois, the Crisis became a leading periodical for African Americans. It provided an African American perspective about topics in everyday life. Additionally, its radical positions against lynching and racial prejudice gave African Americans a voice in the early 1920s. It may have encouraged African American writers to speak their minds. The magazine also sponsored literary contests that provided a forum for new African American writers.
  2. Authors and works include Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers; Claude McKay, If We Must Die and Home to Harlem; and Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on the Road and Their Eyes Were Watching God.
  3. African sculptures, jazz music, dance, and geometric forms heavily influenced Aaron Douglas's murals. The themes of his murals highlighted African heritage and expressed racial pride.
  4. As a jazz innovator, Duke Ellington blended African and Latin elements into a new sound. His special effects and new instrumentation made his music widely popular. His contributions to jazz still influence music today.
  5. Students' short essays will vary.

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