You can catch part 1 of this special series on the 10th anniversary of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance by clicking the links at the end of the article. Part 3 begins now:
“What shall the end be? The world-old and fearful things,--war and wealth, murder and luxury? Or shall it be a new thing,--a new peace and a new democracy of all races,--a great humanity of equal men?” ––W.E.B. Du Bois, from The Wisdom of W.E.B. Du Bois
The importance of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance since its initial publication 10 years ago has been documented in many different ways. Significant honors such as the Choice Academic Title Award, the New Jersey Notable Book of the Year Award, and inclusion in ESSENCE Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide have placed it among standard works in the field. Moreover, according to WorldCat, it occupies shelves in more than a thousand public and university libraries across the United States and around the world. These include: Yale University in the U.S.; the American University in Cairo, Egypt; University of Pretoria Library in Pretoria, South Africa; the Zentralbibliothek of Zürich, Switzerland; and, multiple locations throughout Germany.
It has also been added to the Bloom’s Literary Reference Online and the Facts On File African-American History Online education databases. An Amazon Kindle edition of the book was released for the first time earlier this year.
The Team Effort
The two co-authors identified on the cover of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (which features classic art by Jacob Lawrence) were not the only ones to contribute to the title’s completion. Dr. Clement Alexander Price’s contribution of the foreword has already been acknowledged. In addition, the recent presidential appointee is the author of at least two books of his own: Freedom Not Far Distant: A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey and Many Voices, Many Opportunities: Cultural Pluralism and American Arts Policy.
Among the additional writers who contributed an article to the book, most have gone on to pen memorable works of their own or to distinguish themselves in other notable ways. They include the following:
Iris Formey Dawson: Writer of the encyclopedia article on the iconic Zora Neale Hurston, University of Princeton graduate Dawson may be described as a self-styled “word sculptor” whose published books include Right Talk: An Inspirational and Practical Guide to Communications Success and a volume of poetry titled Silhouettes of the Soul. A principal of Artison Associates, she is also a highly-acclaimed literary performance artist and author of “Astride the Promise of Change: An Inaugural Poem,” which commemorates President Barack Obama’s historic bid for the U.S. presidency.
Vaughnette Goode-Walker: Author of the poetry collection Going Home and a major contributor to the Civil War Savannah book series, Goode-Walker is also a highly-esteemed educator and tour guide in Savannah, Georgia. She wrote the encyclopedia article on novelist Nella Larsen.
Dr. Ja A. Jahannes: Often described as a “renaissance man,” Dr. Jahannes is a minister, composer, poet, playwright, novelist, and all-around creative artist. Among his most celebrated works are the symphonic Montage for Martin and his much-anticipated children’s book, W.W. The Story of a Boy Who Became a Legend, about famed Savannah, Georgia, civil rights leader W.W. Law. His poem “Black Voices Rising” reflects the progressive spirit of the Harlem Renaissance and serves as the book’s opening epigraph.
Karen E. Johnson: Harlem native and educator Johnson holds the distinction of having had a grandfather who was a member of the Harlem Hellfighters. She therefore, appropriately enough, provided the riveting article on the subject.
Mary C. Lewis: The owner of MCL Editing, Lewis is a distinguished freelance writer, freelance editor, and proofreader with an extensive list of credits. She is also the author of Herstory: Black Female Rites of Passage, and wrote the eye-opening article on photographer James Van Der Zee for the encyclopedia.
Tying all of the above perspectives and efforts into a single cohesive volume was editor Nicole Bowen. The encyclopedia was published during the centennial for the publication of W.E.B. Du Bois’ classic The Souls of Black Folk and in the same year as The Wisdom of W.E.B. Du Bois (Kensington Books, Philosophical Library Series). Aside from serving as an unprecedented documentation of a singular period in American, African-American, and world history, the celebrated book also serves as notice of the Harlem Renaissance’s forthcoming 100th anniversary. Exactly which future date should mark the centennial is a subject of some debate at present among scholars.
In the meantime, Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance continues to enrich general and classroom discussions as well as research on the subject. An important part of the reason may be this observation made by Dr. Price:
“We are drawn to the Harlem Renaissance because of the hope for black uplift and interracial interaction and empathy that it embodied and because there is a certain element of romanticism associated with the era’s creativity, its seemingly larger-than-life heroes and heroines an its most brilliantly lit terrain, Harlem, USA.”
author of The River of Winged Dreams
and co-author of ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
- Text and Meaning in Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance Part 1
- Text and Meaning in Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance Part 2
- The Harlem Renaissance and the Year 2020 (Part 1)
- 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance
- In Celebration of Literary Cultural Migrations and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
- Address on 3 Poets of the Harlem Renaissance Delivered on the 72nd Anniversary of the Poetry Society of Georgia
- Jazz Harlem Renaissance Baby Doll
- Harlem Renaissance Dialogues Part 1 Living and Writing Black History
- Harlem Renaissance Dialogues Part 2 Savannah and the Harlem Renaissance
- Celebrating the International Year for People of African Descent