Harlem Renaissance

Cover of "Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent" (2002)

Cover of “Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent” (2002)

The Harlem Renaissance is a term used to describe the cultural, social, and artistic explosion between the end of WWI and the mid-1930s. Harlem became a cultural mecca, drawing black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars, many of whom were fleeing a caustic environment in the south in search for a place where they could more freely express their creative talents. During this time, W.E.B Du Bois was encouraging talented artists to leave the South. The Renaissance both artistic and political, involving a new militant spirit and demand for civil and political rights. The vibrant burst of Jazz and Blues drew an interracial crowd, soothing the thick, othering, barriers of racism with creativity and good community. Artists of the Harlem Renaissance include Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Arna Bontemps, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Walter White, and James Weldon Johnson, and Richard Bruce Nugent.

Friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, Nugent was for many years the only African-American writer who pronounced his homosexuality in print. Published in 1926, “Smoke, Lilies and Jade” tells the story of 19-year-old Alex, and Beauty, a man he meets and falls in love with.

http://www.brucenugent.com/Assets/Text/Smoke.htm (here is a link to a free posting of “Smoke, Lillies, and Jade.”)

A larger collection of Nugent’s work can be found collection of his writings published in 2002: Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent

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