ALAIN LOCKE (d: 1954) An American writer, editor, philosopher, educator and patron of the arts was born on this date. He is best known for his writings on and about the Harlem Renaissance. He is unofficially called the “Father of the Harlem Renaissance.” His philosophy served as a strong motivating force in keeping the energy and passion of the Movement at the forefront.
In classic same-sex “culture carrier” mode, Locke promoted African American artists, writers, and musicians, encouraging them to look to Africa as an inspiration for their works. He encouraged them to depict African and African American subjects, and to draw on their history for subject material. Locke edited the March 1925 issue of the periodical Survey Graphic, a special on Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance, which helped educate white readers about the flourishing culture there.
Later that year, he expanded the issue into The New Negro, a collection of writings by African Americans, which would become one of his best known and seminal works.
His philosophy of the New Negro was grounded in the concept of race-building. Its most important component is overall awareness of the potential black equality; No longer would blacks allow themselves to adjust themselves or comply with unreasonable white requests. This idea was based on self-confidence and political awareness. Although in the past the laws regarding equality had been ignored without consequence, Locke’s philosophical idea of The New Negro allowed for real fair treatment. Because this was just an idea and not an actual bylaw, its power was held in the people. If they wanted this idea to flourish, they were the ones who would need to “enforce” it through their actions and overall points of view. Locke has been said to have greatly influenced and encouraged Zora Neale Hurston.