Themes and Variations

The years following World War I and leading up to the Great Depression were ones of racial segregation and economic instability. Yet in the enclave of New York known as Harlem, this period was also marked by a convergence of creative and intellectual minds. Take a closer look at the Harlem Renaissance and discover how and why the arts flourished.

echoes of harlem

The individuals and works associated with the Harlem Renaissance continue to influence artists and writers beyond the 1930s.

Learn about artists inspired by Harlem in the following resources:






On the Harlem Newstand: Vehicles for Many Voices
Explore the literary publications that brought the works of black scholars, activists, and artists to a national audience for the first time.

Shuffle Along: The Musical at the Center of the Harlem Renaissance
Discover how the musical, Shuffle Along, broke down racial stereotypes and paved the way for black theatrical works to come.
Lindy Hop in Harlem: The Role of Social Dancing
Read about the rise of the Lindy Hop, and the connection between dancing and Harlem life in the 1920s and 1930s.
Evelyn Preer of the Lafayette Players The Lafayette Players: An Oral History
Sr. Francesca Thompson, the daughter of Lafayette Player member Evelyn Preer, recounts the history of the Players and their influential role in theatre.

Black Writers Tell It on the Mountain
During a period of racial tension and inequality, African-American writers sought to find and express their identity and heritage.


The Kennedy Center
Marco Polo
This resource was created in March 2003 by ARTSEDGE. All rights reserved.
ARTSEDGE is a project of the Education Department of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
and is a member of the MarcoPolo Partnership