Grade 7 Harlem Renaissance Festival

Billie Holiday’s jazz vocals spill out of classrooms and seventh graders learn to dance the Charleston during the Harlem Renaissance Experience.

In preparation for the festival, each student researches a person significant to the art, music, literature, or social justice of the 1920s in Harlem and then takes on that character’s persona in an afternoon literary salon in the library. Over the years, the day has included a presentation on photographer James Van Der Zee, known for his portraits of African-American New Yorkers; educators from the Studio Museum in Harlem; dance workshops; bass player Andrew Hall; and hands-on art and poetry workshops with Poly teachers.

“We not only learned about visual art and art connecting to the Harlem Renaissance, but we were also able to use our own materials and create our own pieces of art together,” said Mati Hassan ’21. “It was a fun activity that got us interested in art created during the Harlem Renaissance era, and it helped us understand what it means to look from different perspectives.”

Middle School Harlem Renaissance project kids in classroom
Middle School Harlem Renaissance art project student cutting figures from paper
Middle School Harlem Renaissance art work
Middle School Harlem Renaissance music boys with xylophones
Middle School Harlem Renaissance project guest musician playing standup bass
Middle School Harlem Renaissance students present projects
Middle School Harlem Renaissance zora neale hourston student project