Feb. 24, 2020

The New Negro SURVEY JOURNAL 1925 Celebrating Black History

The New Negro was the “essay” of the 1920s’ for blacks. The essay was supposed to begin the movement towards a different type of black man and black woman. It was alerting the nation that the shuffling along, smiling, and subservient Negro was no longer going to exist. The New Negro opened the world to the brilliance and excellence that thrived in the Negro Metropolis of Harlem. Today, as I continue to celebrate our black history I introduce the essay that exemplified what became the Harlem Renaissance written by the mercurial Alain Locke. The biography of Alain Locke was read aloud on The Black Man Read Aloud Hour Project in the Fall, 2017. This reading comes from the SURVEY JOURNAL, 1925.

Alain Locke (1886-1954) was born and raised in Philadelphia. He graduated from Harvard and continued his studies in Europe as the first African American Rhodes Scholar. After teaching English at Howard University for four years, he returned to Harvard in 1916 to begin work on a Ph.D. in philosophy, which he obtained in 1918. He rejoined the Howard faculty and taught there until his retirement in 1953. In 1925 he edited a special edition of the magazine Survey Graphic, devoted exclusively to the life of Harlem. He later expanded it into an anthology, The New Negro, which became the manifesto of the Harlem Renaissance, or as some critics prefer to call it, the New Negro Movement. In the essay provided here Locke captures the hope and optimism of a people who have discovered "a new vision of opportunity."