Harlem 100 Kicks Off Second Phase of the Celebration Online

Bashar Makhay
June 24, 2020

The Harlem Renaissance 100, a multi-year celebration that commemorates the centennial of the Harlem Renaissance and the artistic brilliance that was its signature, launched in February of this year. Organizers announced that the second phase of the celebration will take place online with virtual salons and events over the summer and beyond.

Spearheaded by Harlem One Stop, an unprecedented partnership comprised of more than 40 of Harlem’s most esteemed cultural institutions will not only celebrate the centennial and its cultural legacy, but also spotlight the vibrancy and creative energy of today’s Harlem in an effort to inspire the next generation of artists.

“The purpose of Harlem Renaissance 100 is to inform, educate and reconnect communities to the momentous movement that made Harlem world-renowned then and which still resonates today,” said Yuien Chin, executive director, Harlem One Stop. “We are so excited to be able to continue this next phase of the initiative. With so much going on in the country particularly surrounding the Black experience in America, we felt it was only right to continue to present events under the festival and to carry forth in the spirit of what the Harlem Renaissance represented–which was the resiliency and brilliance and contributions of African Americans to American culture. Also, now that we are going virtual, it will allow the celebration to truly go global and to reach audiences all over the world.”

The kick off began on June 12th with the Uptown People's Assembly: Facing the Raging Pandemics presented by the Wallach Art Gallery. The event, a 12-hour participatory livestream, was organized in response to the double pandemics of COVID-19 and the recent racist killings of Black people by police officers, which sparked widespread civic unrest. The livestream was designed to provide a space for generative listening and sharing at a time of crisis and change.

Other events were held later that week as part of the kick off. The Harlem Chamber Players presented Langston and Beethoven | Black and Proud with Terrance McKnight and Kyle Walker on June 14th. The Bearden Foundation in collaboration with Harlem School of the Arts and the Museum at the Fashion Institute presented on June 16 Puttin’ on the Ritz: Fashion and the Harlem Renaissance: A Conversation with Camara Holloway and Elizabeth Way.

Programming continues on June 28th when Harlem One Stop presents A Conversation with Yuval Taylor, author of Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal.

Harlem Renaissance 100 Virtual Events

Harlem Summer Arts Experience
Harlem School of the Arts
July 6-31

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem School of the Arts will present a four-week virtual camp that transports young artists to the Harlem Renaissance! Children ages 5-18 are invited to sing, dance, act and design!

A Concert for Justice
Harlem Opera Theater
July 12, 4:00 pm

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, the Harlem Opera Theater will present a tribute to the 90th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

'The Importance of Being Earnest'
Harlem Shakespeare Festival
July 26, 4:00 pm

In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, the Harlem Shakespeare Festival in partnership with the Harlem Cultural Collaborative present The Importance of Being Earnest set in 1920s Harlem. With high style, dynamic dialogue and the music that changed a nation, two young gentlemen, living in Harlem and Westchester, have taken to bending the truth in order to put some excitement into their lives. Things start to go awry when they end up together at a country estate. The cast of nine classically trained actors of color will provide a glimpse at America’s Black bourgeoisie in Oscar Wilde’s fun-loving and hilarious comedy of manners.

Harlem Architecture: Colonial & Modernism with John Reddick
Morris Jumel Mansion
August 9, 4:00 pm

In this engaging lecture, architect and historian John Reddick will explore the colonial aesthetic in Harlem’s early “modern” architecture and consider how it served as a backdrop to the jazz age. Discussing select local early 20th-century designs, such as the Roger Morris Apartments (555 Edgecombe) and Colonial Parkway Apts. (409 Edgecombe). Reddick will place these “Dark Towers” in the context of Harlem’s architecture and social status. 

Uptown Triennial
The Wallach Art Gallery
August 23 (tentative)

In celebration of the Harlem Renaissance centennial, the second iteration of the Wallach Art Gallery’s Uptown triennial, Uptown 2020, will present works by contemporary artists who have been inspired by modernism. Contemporary works will be exhibited alongside several historical works.

Several exemplary objects from the Harlem Renaissance will make up the historical component of the Uptown 2020 exhibition, including: Alain Locke’s seminal publication of The New Negro; an early edition of God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse by James Weldon Johnson and illustrated by Aaron Douglas; Harlem Hospital WPA murals by Charles Alston, Alfred Crimi, Vertis Hayes, and Georgette Seabrooke; a sculpture by Augusta Savage, and a photograph by James Van Der Zee. The rise of jazz music during the era of the Harlem Renaissance will be explored via a tableau of sound recordings, photographs, and a set model by Joseph Urban for the 1929 Ziegfeld Theatre production of Show Girl featuring Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information on Harlem Renaissance 100, visit harlemrenaissance.org and follow the initiative on Instagram via @harlemren100.