Historical Black Women in Art & Literature (Harlem Renaissance Era)

I decided that since it's Women's History Month, today I'll inform you about a few African American women that I have come to learn about recently and have always loved in literature and art. Each woman from this list is particularly from the Harlem Renaissance era. Do you even need to know why I would pick that era???????

Ok in case you do, I'm an artist and I'm sensitive about.... lol no that was Erykah Badu saying that but seriously. As a creative, I have always been intrigued by our African American culture from the Harlem Renaissance era. I'm a die hard Harlem Nights movie watcher and I love the writers and artists from that era. I have created two sections below, literature and art in case you wanted to skip around to the category of your interest but please read the post in its entirety.


Zora Neale Hurston

-Author of famous books such as Their Eyes Were Watching God, Barracoon, Moses, Man of the Mountain and so forth. Whenever I read aunt Zora books, I be ready to sing one of those real church hymns because I know she is about to deliver a deep word that will pierce my soul about my ancestors.

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." - Zora Neale Hurston

Jessie Redmon Fauset

-Born in 1882 in Camden New Jersey, but grew up in Philadelphia, PA. Fauset became an editor, essayist, poet, educator and novelist in the early 1920's. She is the author of several books including The Chinaberry Tree. She also was a writer for a magazine by W.E.B. Dubois in 1912 and by 1919 she advanced to become the literary editor. I just discovered Fauset work recently but reading her biography online, I see that we had a lot in common.

“When I was a child I used to puzzle my head ruefully over the fact that in school we studied the lives of only great white people. I took it that there simply have been no great negroes, and I was amazed when, as I grew older, I found that there were.”—Jessie Fauset


Augusta Savage

-Known for her artwork as a sculptor, she was born and raised in Clay County, Florida with a minister for a father who believed that art was a sin. Because of a natural disaster in her family's home, little did she know that this would become the hidden fortune for her and her family through one of her most famous work called "Gamin". This piece of art is an image of her cousin who modeled for her to complete it.

I really admire what she did in her lifetime and here's a few of her quotes about her or said by her that really stand out to me and I truly believe with my whole heart:

"There is just one field in which the Negro has an equal chance with the white man in American life and that field is art." - George Arthur to Augusta Savage (1930)

"I have created nothing really beautiful, really lasting, but if I can inspire one of these youngsters to develop the talent I know they possess, then my monument will be their work." - Augusta Savage

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Samella Lewis

-Born 1924 in New Orleans, LA, Lewis is an African American woman who is currently still living as a printer and painter. Her works are known to depict her community and it's struggles. My favorite artwork by her is called Washtub blues.

In this piece, the woman is looking at her reflection in the water obviously. As the viewer, I feel as though this is a moment in her life where she is faced to deal with her pains and struggles in her life. It could also be in this very same moment that she finds joy even in the most smallest way possible to get her through another moment or day of her everyday life. What do you think?

These are just a few of the women that I have loved or come to appreciate their work from the Harlem Renaissance era. This month take the time and watch some YouTube videos on documentaries on these and other black writers, artists and creatives. Because of them, we can boldly contribute, print and publish our works in our society, today.