A Timeline of the Harlem Renaissance


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded, and W.E.B. du Bois becomes editor of their monthly magazine, Crisis



James Weldon Johnson’s novel Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is published



– Marcus Garvey, born in Jamaica, arrives in Harlem and founds the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)

– Between 10,000-15,000 African-Americans join the Silent Protest Parade, marching down Fifth Avenue

– Politically radical publication The Messenger is founded

– Two of Claude McKay’s poems are published in the white literary journal Seven Arts



– The 369th Infantry Regiment, a highly decorated unit of entirely African-American soldiers, returns from World War I to Harlem

– Jessie Redmon Fauset becomes literary editor of Crisis

– W.E.B. Du Bois organizes the Pan-African Congress in Paris in February 

– The “Red Summer of Hate;” race riots break out in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and over twenty other American cities, June to September

– NAACP conference on lynching, which leads to the publication of Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1918

– Claude McKay published If We Must Die in The Liberator journal



– James Weldon Johnson becomes head of the NAACP

– UNIA holds its First International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World at Madison Square Garden, New York

– Claude McKay publishes Spring in New Hampshire

– W.E.B. Du Bois’ Darktower is published

– Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones opens at the Provincetown Playhouse in November with black actor, Charles Gilpin, in the lead role.



– The Black Swan Phonograph Corporation is founded by Harry Pace; they produce “race records” which helped bring jazz to a larger audience, especially recordings of Mamie and Bessie Smith

– Langston Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” is published in Crisis

– Representative L.C. Dyer of Missouri sponsors an anti-lynching bill in Congress, making it a federal crime

– The first musical revue written and performed by African-Americans, Shuffle Along, by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake opens on May 22 at the David Belasco Theater on Broadway, launching careers of Josephine Baker and Florence Mills

– Exhibition of African-American art at the 135th Street branch of New York Public Library

– Marcus Garvey founds the African Orthodox Church in September

– Second Pan African Congress

– Founding of the Colored Players Guild of New York

– Benjamin Brawley ‘s Social History of the American Negro is published



– Marian Anderson performs at New York’s Town Hall

– Claude McKay’s novel Harlem Shadows is published

– Meta Warrick Fuller’s sculpture Ethiopia Awakening is shown in the “Making of America” exhibition in New York

– UNIA, NAACP and YMCA march in support of Congressman Dyer’s federal anti-lynching bill

– The Harmon Foundation is established to promote black fine artists

– The Boston Public Library has an exhibition of African-American visual arts and literature

– Publication of The Book of American Negro Poetry, edited by James Weldon Johnson and Claude McKay



– Willis Richardson’s The Chip Woman is produced by The National Ethiopian Art Players, becoming the first drama by a black playwright to appear on Broadway

– Joe “King” Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band records with trumpet player Louis Armstrong, they make 37 recordings together

– Duke Ellington arrives in New York with his band, the Washingtonians

– Jean Toomer’s novel Cane is published

– The Cotton Club, Harlem’s largest and most famous cabaret opens

– Aaron Douglas arrives in New York; his art style becomes the official one of the Harlem Renaissance

– Jessie Redmon Fauset’s There is Confusion is published; this is the first Harlem Renaissance book by a female writer

– Josephine Baker appears on Broadway in Chocolate Dandies

– Roland Hayes performs at Carnegie Hall

– Poems by Countee Culleen appear in four major white publications

– Zora Neale Hurston publishes her first short story in Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life

– Third Pan African Congress

– Two volume publication of Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey



– Civic Club Dinner, sponsored by Opportunity, on March 21st to bring black writers and white publishers together

The Emperor Jones opens in London, with Paul Robeson in the lead role

– Louis Armstrong joins Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra, performing at the Roseland Ballroom

– Miguel Covarrubias’ illustrations of black entertainers are featured in Vanity Fair magazine

– Paul Robeson stars in Eugene O’Neill’s All God’s Chillun Got Wings, opening May 15

– Countee Cullen wins first prize in the Witter Bynner Poetry Competition

– W.E.B Du Bois’ The Gift of Black Folk published

– Jessie Fauset’s There is Confusion is published

– Marcus Garvey’s Aims and Objects for a Solution of the Negro Problem Outlined published

– NAACP leader Walter White’s novel The Fire in the Flint is published

– Bishop Ida Robinson establishes the Mt. Sinai Holy Church of America



– The new musical form known as jazz is showcased at Aeolian Hall in New York in the “First American Jazz Concert”

– Survey Graphic publishes an issue entirely about the work of Harlem Renaissance artists and writers

– Marcus Garvey is convicted of mail fraud; imprisoned in the Atlanta Penitentiary

– Marian Anderson wins a singing competition sponsored by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra

– Countee Cullen’s first volume of poetry, Color, is published

– Sargent Johnson has an exhibit of his paintings at the San Francisco Art Association

– Wallace Thurman moves to New York from Los Angeles

– Zora Neale Hurston goes to Barnard College on a scholarship to study anthropology

– White poet Vachel Lindsay reads Langston Hughes poems to an audience at his own poetry reading, and announces Hughes as a bright new talent

The New Negro anthology introduces the ideas and ideals of the Harlem Renaissance

– Small’s Paradise nightclub opens in Harlem

– American Negro Labor Congress in Chicago, October

Opportunity holds first literary awards dinner, honoring: Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Zora Neale Hurston



– W.C. Handy’s Blues: An Anthology is published

– Langston Hughes’ The Weary Blues is published

– NAACP sponsored theater group, the Krigwa Players, stages three plays

– Controversial novel, Nigger Heaven, by white author Carl Van Vechten, is published

– Harmon Foundation first annual art exhibit of African-American artists’ works

– The Carnegie Corporation buys Arthur Schomburg’s collection of African-Americana, becoming the basis for the Schomburg Center for Research  in Black Culture

– The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem opens

– The short-lived literary and art magazine, Fire!!, is launched by Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman and Zora Neale Hurston, with illustrations by Aaron Douglas and Richard Bruce Nugent



– Duke Ellington begins a three-year stint at The Cotton Club

– Langston Hughes’ Fine Clothes to the Jew is published

– Marcus Garvey returns to Jamaica after being deported

– A’lelia Walker opens The Dark Tower, a nightclub and literary salon

Porgy, the musical by Dorothy and Du Bose Heyward, opens on Broadway

Negro Drawings by Miguel Covarrubias is published

– Sculptor Jacob Epstein arrives in New York, and has Paul Robeson sit for a portrait bust

In Abraham’s Bosom by Paul Green, with an all-black cast, wins Pulitzer Prize in May

– Charlotte Mason becomes a patron of the New Negro, aiding financially, and becomes known as “Godmother” by many young artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance

– Countee Cullen publishes three works: Ballad of the Brown Girl, Copper Sun and Caroling Dusk

– Arthur Fauset publishes For Freedom: A Biographical Story of the American Negro



– Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem is published, becoming the first bestseller by a black author

– Poet Countee Cullen marries Nina Yolande Du Bois, daughter of W.E.B. Du Bois, on April 9th, in an elaborate celebration described as the social event of the decade

– Archibald Motley exhibits his paintings at the New Galleries in New York.

– Wallace Thurman founds Harlem as a successor to Fire!! with illustrations by Aaron Douglas and Richard Bruce Nugent

– Aaron Douglas received a fellowship to study at the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania



– Wallace Thurman’s play Harlem opens on Broadway

– The Harmon Foundation sponsors an exhibition at the National gallery in Washington, D.C. of black artists’ works

– Wallace Thurman’s The Blacker the Berry is published

– Claude McKay’s Banjo is published

– Countee Cullen’s collection The Black Christ and Other Poems is published

– Broadway premiere of Ain’t Misbehavin’ which features Fats Waller music

– The Negro Experimental Theater is founded in February 

– The Negro Art theatre is founded in June

– The National Colored Players is founded in September

– The stock market crashes on October 29 – economic crisis known as the Great Depression begins, and brings an end to the ‘Jazz Age’

– Bessie Smith stars in Dudley Murphy’s film, “St. Louis Blues”

– A musical short, “Black and Tan”, featuring Duke Ellington and his orchestra, is released



– Marc Connelly’s The Green Pastures opens on Broadway on February 26, with an all-black cast

– Universal Holy Temple of Tranquility founded; Black Muslims open Islam Temple in Detroit

– Aaron Douglas is commissioned for a series of murals at the University of Nashville Library

– James V. Herring founds the Howard University Gallery of Art

– Painter Jacob Lawrence settles in Harlem with his family



– Artist Augusta Savage opens the Savage School of Arts and Crafts in Harlem

– The Scottsboro Trial, April through July

– A’lelia Walker unexpectedly dies on August 16th

– James Weldon Johnson’s Black Manhattan, a history of Harlem, is published

– Louis Armstrong is featured in the musical short “A Rhapsody in Black and Blue”

– Langston Hughes publishes four works: Dear Lovely Death, The Negro Mother, Not Without Laughter and Scottsboro Limited 

– George S. Schuyler publishes Black No More

– Vernon Loggins’ The Negro Author: His Development in America to 1900 is published

– The Father Divine Peace Movement establishes its presence in Harlem



– Mass defection of blacks from the Republican Party begins

– Twenty young black intellectuals travel to Russia to make a film, “Black and White”, in June

– Countee Cullen publishes One Way to Heaven

– Claude McKay publishes Ginger Town

– Langston Hughes publishes The Dream Keeper



– Many Harlem Renaissance writers and artists find employment in a government-sponsored program,  the Works Project Administration, designed to create American jobs

– Dudley Murphy releases a film of “The Emperor Jones” starring Paul Robeson

– Aaron Douglas created murals for the Harlem YMCA

– The National Negro Business League closes after 33 years of operation

– Jessie Fauset’s Comedy, American Style published

– Claude McKay publishes Banana Bottom

– James Weldon Johnson’s Along This Way published



– Aaron Douglas is commissioned by the Harlem  branch of the New York Public Library to create a serried of murals entitled Aspects of Negro Life

– Nancy Cunard, a British socialite, founds and edit the Negro Anthology

– The Harmon Foundation, with the College Art Association, begins a travelling exhibition

– Josephine Baker’s first sound film, “Zou Zou” is released in France

– The film “Harlem After Midnight” is released by Oscar Micheaux

– Zora Neale Hurston’s first novel, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, is published

– The Apollo Theatre opens

– W.E.B. Du Bois resigns from Crisis and the NAACP

– Wallace Thurman dies in the charity ward of a New York hospital on December 26th 



– Harlem Race Riot, March 19th, sparked by anger over discrimination by white-owned businesses

– Miguel Covarrubias illustrated Mules and Men, by Zora Neale Hurston

– African Negro Art exhibition is mounted at The Museum of Modern Art

– Carl Van Vechten’s first photographic exhibition, The Keuca Exhibition, opens at Bergdorf Goodman in New York

– Paul Robeson and Hattie McDaniel appear in James Whales’ film “Show Boat”

Porgy and Bess opens on Broadway on October 10th with an all-black cast

– Langston Hughes’ Mulatto, the first full-length play by a black writer, opens on Broadway on October 25th 

– Countee Cullen’s The Medea and Other Poems published

Negro History in Thirteen Plays by Willis Richardson and May Sullivan published

– More than fifty percent of Harlem’s families are unemployed



– Oscar Micheaux’s film, “Temptation”, is released

– Aaron Douglas makes murals for the Hall of Negro Life at the Texas Centennial exposition in Dallas



– Paul Robeson stars in the film, “King Solomon’s Mines”

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is published

– Claude McKay’s Long Way from Home is published

– Revered Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. assumes the pastorate of the Abyssinian Baptist Church



Tell My Horse by Zora Neale Hurston is published

– Richmond Barthé finishes his Dance reliefs for the Harlem River Houses in New York

– Jacob Lawrence’s first solo exhibition at the Harlem YMCA opens; he finishes his Toussaint L’Ouverture series. 

– Mother Horn, a Pentecostal preacher, opens her famous church in Harlem



– Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses: Man of the Mountain is published



– Langston Hughes’ The Big Sea is published

– Claude McKay publishes Harlem: Negro Metropolis