The age of ‘the black stars’ Essay (Book Review)
Updated: May 28th, 2019
The Harlem Renaissance is the famous period in the American culture that includes the years between 1916 and 1940 during which the New Negro movement and the age of ‘the black stars’ developed. The Harlem Renaissance presented a lot of examples of great talents in different spheres of the cultural life in the USA.
Jim Haskins and the group of co-authors including Eleanora E. Tate, Clinton Cox, and Brenda Wilkinson in their Black Stars of the Harlem Renaissance made an attempt to focus on the biographies of the most prominent black stars who contributed to the progress of the American culture.
The authors organized the book as a collection of stories in which they depicted the personalities of the black stars with paying attention to their successes and role in the development of the movement.
In his book Jim Haskins accentuated the role of the personality in the progress of a definite cultural movement. If it is necessary to discuss the Harlem Renaissance as the age in the cultural development of the country, it is impossible to examine it without studying the peculiarities of the creative growth of the most famous representatives of this period.
That is why it is rationally to describe the stories of the black stars of Harlem in the form of short biographical scratches which represent the author’s view in relation to the peculiarities of their personal life and their cultural significance.
This book is the collection of twenty stories which can be considered as biographical profiles focused on the origins and achievements of the stars of Harlem Renaissance. Such names as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Augusta Savage, Henry Johnson, Philip Payton Jr., Bessie Smith, Marcus Garvey, Thomas Andrew Dorsey, and Dorothy West are among those black stars to whom this book is dedicated.
“They all contributed to the making of a legendary era” (Haskins et al., 2002, p. 2).
The introduction to the book presents a short description of the most important aspects connected with the era of Harlem Renaissance in the USA. The author also answers the question about the meaning of the whole New York in the development of this cultural movement. Thus, “often called the capital of Black America, Harlem gave African American people a new sense of their own beauty and power” (Haskins et al., 2002, p. 2).
Moreover, “African Americans expressed pride in their history, style, and culture. Black writing, theater, music, and art thrived in a burst of creativity that came to be called the Harlem Renaissance” (Haskins et al., 2002, p. 2). The authors emphasize the meaning and significance of this age for the American culture concentrating on the peculiarities of its cultural heritage.
In their book famous writers for children present perfectly organized portraits of the most prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance. The authors use a lot of resources to present the bright depiction of the most interesting aspects of the black stars’ lives. Numerable references to the certain cultural researches, books, and articles make the biographical scratches more reliable and complete.
Each story presents the authors’ observation of the main stages in the black stars’ lives from their early years to the top of their activity. Thus, the authors concentrate on the origin of the heroes and its influence on their life. They also pay attention to those challenges which can be considered as crucial ones for the development of the heroes’ talents and abilities.
The most important aspect on which the authors focus on in their work is the personal contribution of the Harlem Renaissance’s stars to the progress of the culture at the beginning of the 20th century in the USA.
Presenting the stories about the black stars, Jim Haskins offers the complete picture and the history of the development of ‘a black star system’, jazz and blues music, the New Negro movement (Hausman, 2008). Moreover, when Haskins accentuate the details from these stars’ lives they are also combined with the other notable social and cultural figures.
Thus, the characters of the heroes, the biographical details, and the analysis of their achievements are given in wide cultural, historical, and social contexts (Soto 2008). This book is also illustrated with a number of vintage photographs which help to recreate and imagine the atmosphere of that period in the USA.
Black Stars of the Harlem Renaissance belongs to the Black Stars series of books written by different authors who develop various aspects of the life of African American people in the USA. The main peculiarity of the series is in the fact it is mostly directed to young readers.
However, these books can also be interesting for the wide audience because of the easiness and brightness of the language and a number of interesting facts and details. In spite of the fact that Black Stars of the Harlem Renaissance is written by the best writers for children and directed to the young public, this book can be interesting for those people who are interested in the history of the American culture and art.
This book can be used for studying the biographies of the most prominent black stars of the Harlem Renaissance, for examining the main peculiarities of this period in the cultural life in the USA, for discussing the stages in the development of the jazz and blues music, cinema art, literature and many other aspects of the cultural life.
Moreover, the authors of the book also give the descriptions of the heroes’ vision of the race relations’ problem. This information can be important for examining the social aspects of the period. That is why the book can be considered as helpful for those people who study the peculiarities of the Harlem Renaissance and for those who are interested in the cultural life of the 20th century in the USA.
Furthermore, Black Stars of the Harlem Renaissance written by Jim Haskins and the group of such co-authors as Eleanora E. Tate, Clinton Cox, and Brenda Wilkinson can be useful for examining the important details of the Harlem Renaissance in connection to the biographies of the most prominent people of that period who have made their contribution to the development of the cultural age.
Developing the biographical profiles of such black stars as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Augusta Savage, the authors offer a variety of biographical facts with references to credible resources on the topic and provide their own analysis of the role and contributions of these stars to the development of the age the Harlem Renaissance.
That is why it is possible to speak about the significance of the work as the collection of good biographical scratches with a lot of factual information which is presented with the help of bright and comprehensible language.
Haskins, J., Tate, E. E., Cox, C., & Wilkinson, B. (2002). Black Stars of the Harlem Renaissance. USA: Wiley.
Hausman, J. J. (2008). The Harlem Renaissance. Arts & Activities, 21(1), 31-39.
Soto, M. (2008). Teaching the Harlem Renaissance. New York, NY: Poter Lang.
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