The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart gives the definitive biography of Alain Locke, also known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance. Stewart uses primary sources of Locke's life and interviews those who knew him personally to bring the story together. He narrates the education of Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar, his earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor at Howard University. Locke also received an education through his travels in Europe, where he came to appreciate the beauty of art and experienced a freedom unknown to him in the United States. And yet he became most closely associated with the flowering of Black culture in Jazz Age America and his promotion of the literary and artistic work of African Americans as the quintessential creations of American modernism. In the process he looked to Africa to find the proud and beautiful roots of the race. Shifting the discussion of race from politics and economics to the arts, he helped establish the idea that Black urban communities could be crucibles of creativity. Stewart explores both Locke's professional and private life, including his relationships with his mother, his friends, and his white patrons, as well as his lifelong search for love as a gay man.