Words such as blossoming, combustible mix, movement, explosion, efflorescence have all been used to describe the Harlem Renaissance. These words are used in an attempt to capture the intellectual, social, and artistic expressions of African Americans during those times. The Harlem Renaissance was a social, artistic, and political movement in the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, many Black folks were migrating north in search of better opportunities in what is referred to as the Great Migration. Many people settled in Harlem, situating the neighborhood as the Capital of African American Culture.
W.E.B. Du Bois moved to NYC in 1910. As one of the founders of the NAACP, he was the first African American to earn a graduate degree, having completed his coursework at Harvard University and the University of Berlin. Civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson published "The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man" in 1912. Black Nationalist and leader of the Pan African movement Marcus Garvey moved to Harlem in 1916 and began publishing the "Negro World" in 1918. At age 15, Countee Cullen moved into the Harlem home of Reverend Frederick A. Cullen, the pastor of Harlem's largest congregation in 1918. By 1920, some 300,000 African Americans from the south had moved north. Harlem became one of the most popular destinations for individuals and families alike.
Historian Yohuru Williams explains what you need to know about the Great Migration of African Americans from the south to the north after the Civil War.