Music and Films of the Harlem Renaissance | The African Americans
Besides jazz, the Harlem Renaissance also introduced films made by independent filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. This video from The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross explores African American music and film to popular culture in the 1920s and 30s.
In the video segment, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. opens with “The Harlem Renaissance spotlighted African American artists both as purveyors of cool and as major contributors to American culture.” Have students research the Harlem Renaissance and find evidence to support this statement.
Based on their research, have students work in groups to create a "Who am I" game on the prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Have each group choose an area of the arts: literature, music, visual arts, or dance and create game cards (on index cards or letter-size cardstock) with the name of the person on one side and clues about the person on the other side, including the person’s contributions to American culture. Each group can test their game on another group of students. Students can also expand this project by displaying the cards on a wall and turning it into a “Harlem Renaissance Hall of Fame.”
Have students delve deeper into an individual from the Harlem Renaissance by asking them to select and research a work by one of the figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Have them analyze the work and its creator’s influence on African American culture. Artists could include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, Arturo Schomburg, or Oscar Micheaux.