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Harlem Voices

Programme Run: 1 x 30 minutes
Production: Angel Eye
First Transmitted: 2011

"Oh to be in Harlem again..." Ragtime and blues played all night, while experimental poets scribbled down new verses. Described as "a magnet for intellectuals", 1920s Harlem was a unique crucible for black poets, artists and musicians. This Manhattan neighbourhood gained a near mythical status though its depiction by the artists of the Harlem Renaissance.

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An explosion in art, literature and music in the 1920s included Duke Ellington and Count Basey.

Two writers, Langston Hughes and Claude McKay, fell in love with Harlem. As Hughes’ work mapped Harlem street by street, he captured the rhythms of blues singers, jazz saxophones and speakeasies in his modern poetry.

Black intellectuals had identified the arts as one area in which black people could get equal rights and recognition. Could this lay the foundation for civil rights?

 


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