Black History Month: Scenes From The Harlem Renaissance
Duke Ellington performed regularly here, and Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday both launched their careers at the venue’s amateur night. You can say that the Apollo Theater was the ‘Motown’ before Motown. Today, the theater stands as an artifact on the bustling 125th street.
The Cotton Club might be Harlem’s most famous surviving jazz venue, but during the Harlem Renaissance that started after World War I and ended sometime during the Great Depression, it was also the neighborhood’s most notorious. It had been opened by Jack Johnson, the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion, as the Club Deluxe (or Club De Luxe) in 1920.
"I am a bit obsessed with this awesome picture. It’s Hilda Simms, Langston Hughes (bottom right) and actor Canada Lee (center in white shirt) at a party with other artists around 1944." - Vintage Black Glamour. Photo by George Karger/Pix Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.
Langston Hughes, a Harlem Renaissance poet, helped pave the way for African American writers to be heard in the 1900's with his first published book "The Weary Blues" which was published in 1926. This was yet another way that Modernist literature was creating a new atmosphere in American Society.