Through his work as a scholar and critic, Alain Locke redefined African American culture and its place in American life. Jeffrey Stewart‘s book The...

Through his work as a scholar and critic, Alain Locke redefined African American culture and its place in American life. Jeffrey Stewart‘s book The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke (Oxford University Press, 2018) offers a detailed examination of Locke’s life, one that reveals his many achievements and how they changed the nation. Born into a middle-class family in Pennsylvania, his mother worked to ensure that Locke had the best education possible. After graduating from Harvard and spending three years in Europe as the first African American Rhodes Scholar, Locke returned to the United States and took a position at Howard University. In the 1920s he encouraged African Americans to embrace their own cultural past, becoming one of the leading promoters of the Harlem Renaissance then emerging in the country. Though his relationship with its leading figures was often fraught with tension, Locke never gave up his advocacy of Afro-American cultural identity, which he continued for the rest of his life through his writings, his lectures, and his sponsorship of African American artists.

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