James Van Der Zee: Life and Death in Harlem


410wApWaenLOn the 29th of June 1886, the largely self-taught African American photographer James Van Der Zee was born in Lenox, Massachusetts. He became the leading photographer of the Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro Movement or the New Negro Renaissance – the cultural movement that spanned the 1920s. The term New Negro was coined by the African American writer and philosopher Alain Leroy Locke who in 1925 co-wrote and co-edited an anthology of fiction, poetry, and essays on African and African-American art and literature titled The New Negro: An Interpretation. In his essay, Enter the New Negro, Locke stated: “…[T]he Negro today wishes to be known for what he is, even in his faults and shortcomings, and scorns a craven and precarious survival at the price of seeming to be what he is not. … He now becomes a conscious contributor and lays aside the status…

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