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The Lost Black ScholarResurrecting Allison Davis in American Social Thought$
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David A. Varel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226534886

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226534916.001.0001

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Harlem from Hampton

Harlem from Hampton

(p.43) Chapter 2 Harlem from Hampton
The Lost Black Scholar

David A. Varel

University of Chicago Press

The second chapter analyzes Davis’s literary style and intellectual agenda during the New Negro Renaissance. It shows how Davis, along with his good friend Sterling Brown, aimed to endow the poor black masses with humanity and virtue through a distinctive style of critical realism called “Negro Stoicism.” Publishing in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Crisis and the National Urban League’s Opportunity magazines, Davis combined literature with polemical essays that promoted racial solidarity and critiqued the approaches of leading black intellectuals of the time. He criticized the “race chauvinism” of the older generation, led by William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, who used art as propaganda. He also castigated sordid representations of black people developed by many of the younger artists, led by Langston Hughes, who were influenced by modernism. Because Davis participated in the Renaissance from Virginia, and because he drew inspiration for his work from the poor blacks he encountered there, his ideas reveal the national scope of the New Negro Renaissance, and they make clear how bottom-up forces shaped the movement.

Keywords:   New Negro Renaissance, Sterling Brown, realism, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Crisis, National Urban League, Opportunity, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, Langston Hughes, modernism

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