Alice Dunbar-Nelson

1875 - 1935

In her early years, Alice Dunbar-Nelson was a teacher who went on to become politically active for both African-American and women’s rights. Alice was an American poet, journalist, and political activist. Among the first generation born free in the South after the Civil War, she was one of the prominent African Americans involved in the artistic flourishing of the Harlem Renaissance. She wrote a ... [+]

Ann Plato


Daughter of a farmer and a seamstress, there exists very little information about her, and most of her life is known from her only published work, "Essays; including Biographies and Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose and Poetry." Although she was not a activist, she does emphasize the equality of people, regardless of race.

Anne Spencer

1882 - 1975

Harlem Renaissance poet and activist Anne Bethel Scales Bannister Spencer was born on a Virginia farm in 1882. The daughter of former slaves, Spencer’s mother enrolled her in school for the first time when she was 11, at the Virginia Theological Seminary and College (now Virginia University of Lynchburg). Six years later, Spencer graduated as valedictorian. Though she lived in Virginia her whole ... [+]

Arna Bontemps


Noted figure of the Harlem Renaissance, Arna Bontemps was a prolific writer of poems, children books and novels. Despite his occasional popularity (notably for "Black Thunder," 1936), he struggled to make a living and started to believe that it was futile for him to attempt to address his own generation, and chose to focus on younger and more progressive audiences.

Claude McKay

1889 - 1948

Festus Claudius "Claude" McKay (1889 – 1948) was a Jamaican writer and poet, who was a seminal figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He wrote five novels: Home to Harlem (1928), a best-seller that won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, Banjo (1929), Banana Bottom (1933), Romance in Marseille (published in 2020), and in 1941 a manuscript called Amiable With Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affai ... [+]

Edward Nathaniel Harleston


Born and raised in Charleston, Carolina, E. N. Harleston worked many jobs before self-publishing his first poems. After gaining some popularity in the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the first Black-run newspapers in the United States, he published his sole volume of poetry, The Toiler’s Life, in 1907.

Effie Lee Newsome


Effie Lee Newsome was a figure of the Harlem Renaissance who mostly wrote children's poem and parables about being young and black in the 1920s. She contributed to The Crisis, the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and had a clear influence on her fellow poets.

Eloise Bibb Thompson


Teacher and poet, she published her first book of poems aged 17. In 1911, she married a civil rights activist and moved to Los Angeles where she wrote various articles and plays about African-Americans.

Eva A. Jessye


First black woman to receive international distinction as a professional choral conductor, Eva A. Jessye was an active supporter of the Civil Rights movement. She worked in New York with creative multi-racial teams in groundbreaking productions that experimented with form, music and stories.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper


One of the first African-American women to be published in the United States, especially for novels (Iola Leroy, 1892), she was also a poet, an abolitionnist and a suffragist. Very popular and prolific writer, she died at age 85, nine years before women gained the right to vote.

George Marion McClellan


McClellan worked as a Congregationalist minister and as a high school teacher and principal. His writing, generally self-published, addresses religion, nature, and romantic love while only occasionally revealing an emotional struggle against racial discrimination.

George Moses Horton


Known as the "Black bard of North Carolina", G. M. Horton wrote his first collection, The Hope of Liberty (1829), to earn enough money to purchase his freedom, but in vain. He did not become free until 1865, when Union troops and the Emancipation Proclamation reached North Carolina.