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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: It Will Be Digital

Author: Jada L. Warfield-Henry


Sayre High School

Year: 2016

Seminar: Thinking Black, Writing Revolution: The Harlem Renaissance in Conversation with the Black Arts Movement

Grade Level: 12

Keywords: black arts movement, Digital Anthology, English, Harlem Renaissance, High School, hip-hop, Historical Context

School Subject(s): English

The students will be able to determine as a whole class what they wish to disseminate to others as the voices of their time.  They will be able to compile these artist, etc. into a digital space, a Google classroom, and then share it with another high school class who is also working on a similar project.  Then they would be able to comment and discuss digitally whether they agree or disagree with other classes selections.

The idea is for them to develop a good cache of artist, writers, painters, sculptors, rappers, etc so that there can be a great exchange of ideas and dialogue amongst themselves.  The idea is for them to begin to take ownership and responsibility for their collective voice.  The goal is for the students to understand how powerful a unified voice and position can be and how historically literature and the arts have been used to fight for our culture and our rights.

Download Unit: 16.04.02-unit.pdf

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Full Unit Text


This unit designed is to help students understand the historical significance of these two major time periods in African-American literature and culture. Although it has to be noted that the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s was neither the first negro renaissance nor was it the last, some have said that the first occurred as early as the 1890’s (English, 1999) and many would still stay that it continues to today. It is important to look at both the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement because both were times in which African-Americans delved into a new sense of consciousness about what it meant to be black, which change how they saw themselves in the world.  In turn, this new consciousness also gave the rest of the world an opportunity to see African-Americans in a new light and from a different perspective. Yet, how and why both of these periods of growth and exploration of black culture, literature, and art came about originated from different and varied forces going on in the world at their respective times.

The first step in doing so is to introduce them to the idea of periodization, which means helping students grasp that “movements” of any sort, have a beginning, middle, and end.   Which means that this unit will also expose students to the idea that the personalities and the issues artists have both internally with themselves and externally with other artists often determine how a “movement” will be understood.  But because we have such a limited understanding of the particulars, we approach the New Negro Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement as discrete events, disconnected from the rest of black cultural history.  This unit aims to teach students how to challenge those facile assumptions as a way to prepare them to create a digital anthology featuring the voices of their era.  The students need to have the ability to articulate what is important to their generation.  They need to be able to identify and defend those artist, writers, stories, etc. that they believe speak to them and for them. I want them to be able to discuss and analyze their peers choices and determine whether they agree or disagree with their classmates selections and why.

Eventually, the goal of this unit is to invite students to determine as a collective how they will define the characteristics of what constitutes “noteworthy” events and finally what they wish to disseminate to others as the definitive voices of their time.  Students will be able to compile these artist, etc. into a digital space, either a Google classroom or a wiki page and then share it with other high school classes working on similar projects.  This will allow them to comment and discuss digitally whether they agree or disagree with other classes’ selections.

The goal of developing a substantive corpus of artist, writers, painters, sculptors, rappers, depends on the students’ ability to exchange ideas amongst themselves.  It is important for them to take ownership and responsibility for their collective voice in order for students to understand how powerful a unified voice and position can be and how historically literature and the arts have been used to fight for our culture and our rights.

This unit fits into the School District of Philadelphia’s curriculum because there is an emphasis on use of technology and getting students to utilize higher order thinking skills such as synthesizing and analysis of information into a cohesive argument.  The challenge for a teacher who decides to utilize this curriculum unit is to start from the understanding that the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement are complex topics that can be difficult to break down into manageable pieces for students to digest.  So, much depends on how well class discussions become opportunities for students to become knowledgeable about the historical context of the movements as well as what brought about each movement’s inception.

The Periodization of the Harlem Renaissance

One of the most difficult things we to understand during this section of the course are the true beginning of the Harlem Renaissance movement. Some scholars believe that the Harlem Renaissance began in 1919 with the African-American soldiers returning from World War I (WWI) (English, 1999).  There may be some merit to this consensus because WWI was one of the mobilizations of African-American men around the world.  World War I saw over 380,000 African-American men serving in the military around the world, allowing many to be exposed to political ideologies and cultures different from any they had ever experienced (Early, 2008). So the arrival home of these soldiers ushered in a new understanding of politics and a more worldly life view. These soldiers had fought in a war to protect democracy around the world on behalf a country that legally and systematically oppressed them (Early, 2008).  Their new understanding of the world was a definite cause to examine the black experience from a new perspective, their own.

Another reason that the 1920s was a watershed time in African-American culture is that World War I, a war being fought in Europe, caused European immigration to cease.  Therefore, the American northern industries were forced to turn to black labor from the south to sustain them (Ferguson, 2008).  At the same time, blacks in the south were faced with violence and Jim Crow south making the North seem more social and financially  appealing than remaining in the segregated south (Ferguson, 2008).

Other scholars believe that the Harlem Renaissance began in 1924 at the Manhattan Civic Club at dinner honoring Jessie Fauset where many of the prominent authors of the Harlem Renaissance gathered together (Patton & Honey, 2001).  Some of these same scholars note that the Harlem Renaissance truly gained momentum in 1925 after W.E.B. DuBois published an editorial in The Crisis, a publication created by W.E.B. Dubois on behalf of the NAACP in 1910, where he acknowledged “an unprecedented blossoming of black literature in America and pledged the services of his office to its perpetuation” (Singleton, 1982).  Although all of these may be valid starting points, I do not feel it necessary to have an absolute inception point.  Instead, what matters is studying what led to the rise of the movement, its purpose, and its connection to what was happening in the world at the time.

The Historical Context of the Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance is often called the ‘New Negro Movement’ which is a reference to the desire to create a new, positive black image as an intellectual and shed that of the ignorant slave past (Delgado-Tall, 2001). The term ‘new negro’ goes back as far as the 1880’s as a reference to a person who had grown up after slavery (Early, 2008). It could also be a reference to new global perspectives becoming vocal in the African-American culture.  In December 1919, Fenton Johnson wrote about several African-Americans from the west indies including, William Braithwaite and Marcus Garvey, that was changing the ‘negro’ landscape of consciousness (Mitchell, 2010).  Mr. Johnson’s ability to acknowledge the influence of the West Indies on the lives of negroes in America was another note the beginning of growth of social consciousness.  The term “renaissance” is a way of describing a rebirth (Sherrard-Johnson, 2015). This is an interesting idea to explore with the students about how a people can use literature and art to redefine how the world sees them and how they see themselves. The Great migration definitely played a part in needing to redefine the African-American experience.

The first Great Migration began around 1916 and continued through 1930 (Staff, 2010). Many African-Americans were moving from the wide open spaces of the rural south to congested cities with the hope of financial prosperity and freedom from segregation.  However,  when they arrived in the cities, such as Chicago, Detroit, and Harlem, they found themselves limited and constrained by both the closer proximity of their compatriots while being faced with the task of acquiring a new understanding of what it means to be a member of a community in the city (Singleton, 1982).  African-Americans of the south were often related to most if not all of the members in their community, in the north, they had to contend with people from different geographical locations, different faith denominations, and different life experiences.  They could now choose how they organized themselves as a community, who they were associated with and geography no longer was a necessary criterion (Singleton, 1982). The decision to call it the Harlem Renaissance is interesting in and of itself because the majority of the contributors to the movement were not from (or even necessarily, in) Harlem, New York (Singleton, 1982). Scholar Gregory Singleton analyzed a selection of writers from the Harlem Renaissance and noted that only two of the seventy-three writers analyzed were from Harlem and only seventeen were even from northern states. (Singleton, 1982).  This did not mean that they did not eventually end up living in Harlem, over seventy-five percent eventually came to do so, but it does speak to the variety of life experiences they brought to the movement from the upbringing in different places (Singleton, 1982).

Some scholars believe that the rise of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s was an effort by black writers to create a new manor of literature that was different from established mainstream [white] literature (Singleton, 1982).  Alain Locke stated best, that during the Harlem Renaissance, “The negro today wishes to be known for what he is, even in his faults and shortcomings, and scorns a craven and precarious survival at the price of seeming to be what he is not (Locke, 1939). It was an opportunity for African-Americans to begin to write their own discourse about their experiences both good and bad. This was possible because of the general demographics of the contributors to this movement. This new group of writers and artist were of a more sophisticated generation.  The majority of contributors to the movement were highly educated.  Most had at least attended college, earned bachelor’s degrees, many had received master’s degrees, and a few had even earned PhDs, three of those PhDs were received at Harvard University (Singleton, 1982).  At a time when twenty-three percent of African-Americans were illiterate, this statistic demonstrates the elite status of this group (Singleton, 1982).  However, this elitism may have also been the downfall of the group.  Although the contributors to the movement believed that they were speaking on behalf of the race as a whole, they as a group were not a typical cross-section of the race (Singleton, 1982). They were also a young group; many of the contributors were in the early to mid-twenties during this time period (Price, 2005). This all lends to the new view by which they saw themselves and African-Americans as a whole.

The Demise of the Harlem Renaissance

The demise of the Harlem Renaissance is as difficult to pinpoint as its inception.  However, again it is a wonderful opportunity for debate, discussion, and drafting arguments by the students.  Some say that the Harlem Renaissance began to decline in the early 1930’s due to the Great Depression (Wintz, 1988). The financial downfall for America meant that Negro writers did not have the financial support of wealthy benefactors (Singleton, 1982).  Others assert that the Renaissance didn’t die; it migrated due to the lack of publishing opportunities (Bracks & Smith, 2014). Some say that the renaissance moved from Harlem to Chicago in the 1930’s (Trice, 2012).  This movement occurred during the time of the depression and was viewed as more working-class centric (Trice, 2012).  However, this Chicago renaissance brought forth a bevy of prolific artist, and writers including Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Burroughs, Kathrine Dunham, and Richard Wright, and Ted Poston (Trice, 2012). What is most important will be the student’s ability to analyze these events and decipher for themselves what they believe happened and more importantly supporting their position with why it happened.

The Black Arts Movement

The Black Arts Movement comes into existence several decades after the Harlem Renaissance and it occurred during a very volatile time in American political and social history.  For the most part, the inception of the Black Arts Movement is said to have begun in the 1960’s (Baraka, 2011).  This was at the height of the Civil Rights Movement which focused on using non-violent tactics and techniques to achieve their goal of racial equality (Joseph, 2010).  Although African-Americans were fighting for their equality under the aegis of Martin Luther King’s philosophy of non-violent protest, the violence directed against them took the form of the Sixteenth Street Church bombing, the rioting at the University of Mississippi, and the assassination of Medgar Evers (Joseph, 2010), all of which occurred prior to 1965.  This constant barrage of violence led another faction of people, who were beginning to awaken to a new consciousness, to denounce the non-violent methods and ideologies of the civil rights movement (Baraka, 2011) . Some note that the impending changes could be seen in the differences between the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) which was led by Dr. King and a mainstay of the non-violent civil rights movement, and the younger faction the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which took a more militant tone under their leader Stokely Carmichael who eventually left SNCC and joined the Black Panther Party in the late 1960’s (Standford University, 2016)

The Black Arts Movement was spurred on by changes in the political landscape most notably the rise of the Black Power Movement (Armstrong, 2015). Amiri Baraka also notes that the African Liberation Movement and the Cuban Revolution contributed his desire to make a change to his own social consciousness (Baraka, 2011).  These political movements were not the only catalysis for change.  There were also difference changes occurring in the black community.  An example is when former North Carolina NAACP member Robert Williams advocated for blacks to defend themselves against the clan (Baraka, 2011).  There were also the teachings of Malcolm X which encouraged black people to stand for self-respect as well as self-defense against ‘the white man’ (Joseph, 2010).  There were also instances of national riots from Los Angeles to Detroit and the rise of the Black Panthers (Gladney, 1995). There was also the assassination of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King (Gladney, 1995).  These events definitely spoke to new more volatile sense of consciousness which manifested its anger and frustrations in the art and literature coming from the black community.

These ‘newly conscious’ black artist wanted to produce art and literature that was socially relevant to their new consciousness as well as eschewed the mainstream, Eurocentric ideology of artistic expression (Gladney, 1995).  This is difficult to achieve because any ‘black art/artist’ that achieved mainstream success was generally not considered to be a ‘true’ artist (Gladney, 1995).  Teachers may find this will be a productive moment for class discussion because there is a connection to be made between the BAM and hip-hop.  The more underground a rap artist is the more their art is considered ‘true to the game’ (Gladney, 1995).  This should make a real world connection between the Black Arts Movement and hip-hop artist today.

Some believed that one main objective of the black arts movement was to create a new means of judging black art, by creating a ‘black aesthetic’ which would allow black people to judge their art according to their own standards (Gladney, 1995). Part of the issue of trying to have a black artistic standards is trying to decide who gets to set or determine what the standards should be (Gladney, 1995).  Some have argued that this new ’black aesthetic’ was so focused on the black man’s experience of racism that it failed to fully take into consideration the black female perspective (Mance, 2004).  I would love to see the interesting class discussions that are possible as we delve into this issue.  Especially since some believe that the phallocentric perspective permeated the Harlem Renaissance as well (Mance, 2004).  Others argued that any attempt at all to fully define what a black aesthetic is automatically limits it (Gladney, 1995).

The Demise of the Black Arts Movement

Unlike the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement began to decline in the early 1970’s with the decline of the Black Power Movement (Salaam, 2016).  The various black power organizations came under fire by various government agencies including the FBI and the IRS in an effort to discredit and dismantle them (Salaam, 2016).  This caused a decline in the Black Arts Movement because of its close association with such movements (Salaam, 2016).  Others theorize that the movement began to decline because of internal strife.  As previously stated, part of the goal of the movement was to establish a black aesthetic but that was difficult to define.  Issues of gender, as well as class began to form dissentions amongst the people in the movement (Woodard, 1999).  Again, for the purposes of this lesson it is not important to pinpoint one reason for the demise of the movement, it is more important to foster conversation about the real world issues surrounding its demise.


 The objectives of the unit will include the following:

Students will be able to (SWBAT):

  • Analyze the relationships between literature, visual art, and music from the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement in order to understand how they attempted to create collective ideologies.
  • Analyze and synthesize information about the two movements in order to draft a cohesive and logical comparative five paragraph essay.
  • Experience analyzing literature, poems, paintings and song in order to understand their historical significance.
  • Work in cooperative groups in order to analyze and discuss the commonalities of literary works from both the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement.
  • Analyze and discuss various literary, musical, or artistic works in order to contribute to the class’ digital anthology.
  • Utilize various informational texts in order to formulate arguments to support the inclusion of their selections to the class digital anthology.
  • Engaging in oral dialogue and debate with their fellow district school peers in order to discuss and compare their class anthology with another school’s anthology.


Jig sawing

This is a strategy that emphasizes cooperative learning by providing students an opportunity to actively help each other build comprehension. I assign students to reading groups (you can group them by reading level or by proximity if they are relatively on the same levels). Each group is responsible for becoming an “expert” on one section of the assigned material and then “teaching” it to the other teams in the class.

Graphic Organizers

I started my career as a special education teacher and found that all students benefit from the use of graphic organizers.  For this unit, I will be utilizing a Cornell Note taker graphic organizer, as well as a guided note sheets, as a differentiation strategy for my special needs students.


I believe that children learn through different modalities.  Therefore, I will use songs and videos to help the students understand the importance of music throughout this lesson.  This is a great strategy to help visual/auditory learners.  You can use several different sources from actual videotapes, DVDs, or YouTube.  If a student finds a relevant video on YouTube and cannot access it in your building you can use an online clip converter program and download the video.

Ask Three Before You Ask Me

When conducting a class discussion, I want the students to learn and engage with each other more so than with me.  Therefore, I also ask the students to agree or disagree with the statements of their classmate.  The student must state whether they agree or disagree and then they must explain why.  This automatically makes students provide supporting evidence for their position.  This is important because the more comfortable they get with this process verbally it should carry over to their writing.  I generally ask two students if they agree/disagree with the first position before weighing in.  If you wish to give more autonomy to the students, you can let the students choose the next speakers as well.


Our kids are growing up in a digital world.  They are very adept at using computers, cell phones, and tablets.  For this unit, the students will be taken into the computer lab which has Mac books.  We will be using Google classroom to create a space where students can share artist, stories, poetry, music, and videos.  They will be able to access and add media and content at home or on their phone.  They will be able to add to the classroom discussion of said media, outside of the classroom.  Also, we will be able to share our anthology with another class for their input and insight as well.


I often use music to transition from one activity to another.  I use songs that the students choose to play during the do now activity.  However, with this unit, music is a central part of the lesson.  It is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their analytical skills by interpreting the meaning of song lyrics in relation to the era in which it was created.

Classroom Activities

The Historical Background Lesson

The entire class would be provided with guided notes as we learn about the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement.  We would analyze a few essays, articles and songs for each time period.  The students would have to ascertain the message of the piece and make any historical connections.

As a class, we would create a timeline of what was happening in the country at the time of the renaissance. They would have to agree with the times we place on the class timeline and would have to defend before their peers the inclusion on the timeline of their suggestions. We would also study the historical timeline for the development of the black arts movement.  We will then compare it with the time frame we established for the Harlem renaissance to understand the historical context of both movements.

The Comparative Essay Lesson

They would then have to draft a five-paragraph essay comparing the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement. They would have to address the historical context at the time of inception, the historical significance of each, as well as literature and art review for each.  The students will then also have to discuss the various differences between the two and the differences between the intended audiences.  Finally, they would have to surmise what caused or led to the end of each period.

Once the essays are written, the students would be paired off to do a critique and peer editing of their work.  They would have to provide each other with positive feedback as well as provide suggestions and questions to strengthen their paper.  They would have to complete a given rubric to grade each other’s paper. (See Attached).  The students would then have to do a revision before typing and submitting their final draft.

The Digital Anthology Lesson

This lesson is so important.  To begin this lesson, I will have the students watch the Ted Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “The Danger of a Single Story” (Adichie, 2009). She discusses the fact that when someone only hears a single story they are at risk of not truly understanding a person, place, or people (Adichie, 2009).  At one point in her speech, she discusses the problem with a single story, stating, “a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become… Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.” (Adichie, 2009).  Teachers may wish to place this section of her speech on the board and invite the students to write about what they think her point is and how it relates to them.  The notion is to have a discussion about how the media, the school districts, the researchers, among others all have a single story about this generation and the one side of the story that is often not told is the student’s own. The idea is to help the students understand how often people do become that which others believe they are, almost like a self-fulling prophecy even when its negative, but it does not have to be. It would segue into the need for the students to learn how to define for themselves how they wish to be seen and who and/or what defines the world to them. The idea is to teach the students about the power they have to shape how they see themselves and how the world sees them by telling their side of the story so that they are not defined by anyone else’s story.  This also is a good time to make a correlation between them and their generation and the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement as periods where black people have redefined their image for themselves. This discussion would give the teacher the opportunity to introduce the idea of a class-created digital anthology.

The students would have to select and bring to class different music and literature to share with their classmates.  They would then have to explain the significance of the piece.  Finally, they would have to be able to articulate why the piece should be viewed as significant for their generation. The student must be able to defend their selection and be able to provide evidence of its significance. (i.e. – video of black lives matter protest – could be correlated to the L.A. riots.  The song Glory by Common& John Legend which could be used to address the racial injustice we still face in America, etc.).  They would have to discuss the geographical location of the piece and whether it had any significance.  Once the student presents and defends their selection, the class as a whole would vote on whether to add the piece to the anthology.  If the student’s piece is accepted by the class, that student would be permitted to add it to the Google classroom along with the analysis of the piece and description of its significance.  Their classmates would then add comments to the piece’s discussion board.

In order for the students to be able to access different types of digital media, there would have to be a lesson on how to access databases.  I would have students access the Free Library of Philadelphia’s databases as a class while we were in the computer lab.  Students would have to identify relevant articles, stories, etc. from the databases. Once all pieces have been presented, discussed, and posted, it would be shared with another senior class, either in the building or at another school in an effort to gain their perspective on the anthology.  They would be able to comment and add their own ideas or comments to the board.  They would also have an anthology that my class would annotate as well.  The students from both schools would be able to meet to discuss their analysis of the other classes’ anthology. They would be able to discuss what they would want to add their own anthology based from the other class’ list and why.  At the end of the project, each student would have to write a reflection paper about what their learned throughout the process, their take on the final compilation, and what they believe it says is important to their generation.

Annotated Bibliography

Teacher Resources

Armstrong, J. B. (2015). The Cambridge Companion to American Civil Rights Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press.

This is a good teacher resource because the book provides a good time line for the civil rights movement from the 1800’s.  Therefore, it covers major historical events that occurred during the time of the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement.  It is also provides good background information on the Harlem Renaissance.

Baraka, A. (2011). The Black Arts Movement: It’s Meaning and Potential. Journal of Contemporary African Art(29), 22-31.

This is an important text to read simply because Amiri Baraka is one of the founding fathers of the Black Arts Movement.  To read about the movement in his own words is helpful understanding its inception.  Although I listed this as a teacher resource, if you are utilizing this unit for an upper class high school class, it would good to have the students read this as well.

Beauchamp, G. (2016). The Black Genteel Tradition. The Antioch Review, 74(1), 20-28.

I did not find this article to be particularly helpful to me and this unit.  however if you wanted to expand or change the focus a bit by focusing on the women of the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement, you may find this article more useful.

Bracks, L., & Smith, J. C. (2014). Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

This was a good source for background information on the Harlem Renaissance.  However, if you wanted to make this unit more gender centered, this would be a good source to use to identify noted artist of that era.

Delgado-Tall, S. (2001). The New Negro Movement and the African Hertiagein a Pan-Africanist Perspective. Journal of Black Studies, 31(3), 288-310.

I liked this source for information regarding the need and desire to re-create a new black image during the Harlem Renaissance.  It provided a good understand of the purpose of the ‘new negro movement’.

Early, G. (2008). The New Negro Era and the Great African-American Transformation. American Studies, 49(1/2), 9-19.

I found this article very interesting because I had not taken into consideration how World War I impacted the Harem Renaissance.  It is a good article to get a good perspective on how world views were brought back to the United States by the soldiers.

English, D. K. (1999). Selecting the Harlem Renaissance. Critical Inquiry, 25(4), 807-821.

This is a helpful resource because it lends itself to the idea that the Harlem Renaissance was not the first renaissance of its kind.  It delves into the idea that black art and artist have undergone several different ‘renaissances’ since the 1800s through today.  It makes real world connections to the present which could be helpful in classroom discussions.

Ferguson, J. B. (2008). The Harlem Renaissance : ABrief History with Documents. Boston: St. Martin’s Press.

This is a good resource for getting a background on the global influences on the origin of the Harlem Renaissance.

Fulwood III, S. (2007, March/April). Creativity on Fire: The Black Arts Movement Took Root in and Gave Meaning to the Political Dynamics of an Era. Black Issues Book Review, pp. 13-15.

This resource provided some background information that was helpful in developing the historical context of the Black Arts Movement.

Gifford, J. (2013). “Someting Likea Harlem Renaissance West”: Black Popular Fiction, Self-Publishing, and the origins of Street Literature: Interview with Dr. Roland Jefferson and Odie Hawkins. MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S., 216-240.

I thought this article would help me understand how black artist became self-published.  It did not. This is not a very helpful resource.

Griffin, F. J. (2008). On Time, In Time, Through Time: Aaron Douglas, Fire!! and the Writers of the Harlem Renaissance. American Studies, 49(1/2), 45-53.

This was not a very helpful resource because it did not provide any concrete information that I could use in this unit.

Jarrett, G. (2012). The Harlem Renaissance and Its Indignant Aftermath: Rethinking Literary History and Political Action After Black Studies. American Literary Review, 24(4), 775-795.

This is not a very helpful resource either.  I thought it would help me shape my historical understanding about the Harlem Renaissance but it more about academia and how it should be taught.

Joseph, P. E. (2010). Neighborhood Rebels. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

This is a great resource to gain an understanding of the black power movement and its effects on the Black Arts Movement.  It looks at how different geographical areas had a different effect on the Black Power as well as the Black Arts Movement.

Locke, A. (1939). The New Negro” “New” or Newer? Opportunity, 17, 4-6.

This is a wonderful read for self.  It is an interesting retrospective of the Harlem Renaissance from a time period right there after.

Mance, A. M. (2004). “The Same Old Danger/But a Brand New Pleasure”: The Black Arts Movement in the 21st Century. Journal of African American Studies, 8(1/2), 90-107.

This is a wonderful resource to make real world connections between the Black Arts Movement and art/artist of today.  It would be very helpful in providing a current context for the movement to your students.

Mitchell, E. J. (2010). “Black Renaissance”: A Brief History of the Concept. American Studies, 55(4), 641-665.

Another good resource for background information.

Nast, P. (2016, February ). Black History Month Lessons & Resources: Integrating African-American Culture & History into Your Curriculum. Retrieved from National Education Association:

I used this to get an idea of where I wanted to start to my unit.  It has various lessons on the Harlem Renaissance that you may find helpful.

Ortega, K. B. (2015). Accessing the Harlem Renaissance Through The Crisis. Pedagogy, 15(2), 378-382.

This was a good resource about The Crisis and the role the NAACP played in the Harlem Renaissance.

Salaam, K. Y. (2016). Historical Overview of the Black Arts Movement. Retrieved from Illinois University:

This was a good resource to help me understand what led to the demise of the Black Arts Movement.  This was good background information.

Sell, M. (2008). Don’t Forget the Triple Front: Some Historical and Representational Dimensions of the Black Arts Movement in Academia. African American Review, 42(3/4), 623-641.

This is another good source of background information on the Black Arts Movement.

Sherrard-Johnson, C. (2015). A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell Publishing.

This is a good resource for finding authors and different text you might wish to explore in class with your students.

Singleton, G. H. (1982). Birth, Rebirth, and the New Negro of the 1920’s. Phylon, 43(1), 29-45.

This helped me understand the ‘new negro movement’ and its importance.

Smethurst, J. (2003). “Pat Your Foot and Turn the Corner”: Amiri Baraka, the Black Arts Movement, and the Poetics of a Popular Avant-Garde. African American Review, 37(2-3), 261-270.

This was more about studying different artist of the Black Arts Movement.  If you are looking form noted artist this would be a helpful resource.

Smith, D. L. (1991). The Black Arts Movement and Its Critics. American Literary History, 3(1), 93-110.

This provided me with a different perspective on the Black Arts Movement.  It offers talking points that can be used to start class dialogues.

Standford University. (2016). The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute . Retrieved from Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee:

This is an interesting review of the SCLC and SNCC.  It gives a context to the rise of the Black Arts Movement.

Trice, D. T. (2012, August 27). Chicago Had Its Own Black Rensaissance: Arts Movement Lasted More than Two Decades, Rivaled the One in New York. Chicago Tribune.

This article gives a quick review of the rise of the Chicago Black Renaissance and gives some insight into what happened after the Harlem Renaissance ended in New York.

Wintz, C. (1988). Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance. Houston: Rice University Press.

This again is a good resource for background information on the Harlem Renaissance and its inception.

Woodard, K. (1999). A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Retrieved from Schombueg Center for Research in Black Culture.

This is a good resource for background information on the Black Arts Movement.

Student Resources

Adichie, C. N. (2009, July). The Danger of a Single Story. (Ted Talks, Performer) TedGlobal 2009. Retrieved from

This is a wonderful video to introduce the importance of the digital anthology lesson.  It will be a wonderful vehicle to open dialogue with the students about the importance of knowing more than one story and the power of the storyteller.

Bracey, J. H., Sanchez, S., & Smethurst, J. (2014). SOS: Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader. Amherst: University of Massachusetts.

This is a great resource for the students to use to read about the Black Arts Movement.  There are a lot of amazing essays, poems, and written works for them to analyze in the classroom.  It is a good reference.

Gladney, M. J. (1995). TheBlack Arts Movement and Hip-Hop. African American Review, 29(2), 291-301.

This is a wonderful resource to use in the classroom to make real world connections between the Black Arts Movement and Hip-Hop.  I think the students would get a better understanding of the purpose of the movement by correlating it with something they love, hip-hop.

Patton, V. K., & Honey, M. (2001). Double Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology. New Brunswick : Rutgers University Press.

This is another wonderful anthology that would be a great student resource. It has a variety of authors, poets, playwrights, and perspectives. There is a plethora of materials for the students to analyze in class.

Price, R. J. (2005). Hegemony, Hope, and the Harlem Renaissance: Taking Hip Hop Culture Seriously. Convergence, 38(2), 55-64.

This article is another great student resource because it draws correlations between Hip-Hop and the Harlem Renaissance.  It is in the same vein as the Gladney article but for the Harlem Renaissance.


This is the digital anthology submission form that I created for the students to use.

Name:  _________________

Date:  __________________


Digital Anthology Submission Form


Piece:  __________________________________________________________________

Created by: _____________________________________________________________

Date of Creation:       ____________________

Location of Creation (if known):    __________________________________________

Form of Media:         ______________________________________________________

Source of the Piece:   ______________________________________________________


How/why do you believe this should be added to the anthology?



What is the message/theme of the piece?



How/why do you believe this speaks for your generation?




Date of Submission: _________________                            ACCEPTED            DENIED

This is the peer editing rubric for the students to follow.


English 4 Honors                                                                                Date:  ____________


Peer Editing Checklist


Writer:  _____________________                             Reviewer: ____________________


Topic:  ______________________________________


Needs Work (0-2) Good




Writing holds the readers’ interest.
1. The paragraph is well organized, with at least five sentences.
2. Grammar and spelling are correct.
3. Sentences and paragraphs are punctuated properly.
  1. Sentences are clear and concise.
  1. Handwriting or typing is neat.
  1. The paragraph uses transition words or phrases properly.
  1. The writer stays on topic.
  1. Best parts of this piece of writing:






  1. Areas needing more work:













The standards for this unit will be taken directly from the Pennsylvania Common Core English Language Arts Standards.  The standards will include the following:

1.2-Reading Informational Text

Students read, understand, and respond to informational text—with an emphasis on comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and making connections among ideas and between texts with focus on textual evidence.

CC.1.2.11-12.G – Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

CC.1.2.11–12.I – Analyze foundational U.S. and world documents of historical, political, and literary significance for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

1.4- Writing

Students write for different purposes and audiences. Students write clear and focused text to convey a well-defined perspective and appropriate content.

CC.1.4.11–12.C – Develop and analyze the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic; include graphics and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

CC.1.4.11–12.I -Distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims; develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.

1.5 Speaking and Listening

Students present appropriately in formal speaking situations, listen critically, and respond intelligently as individuals or in group discussions.

CC.1.5.11–12.A – Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions on grade-level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.