#CelebrateWithDE – African Americans in the Arts

The contributions of black Americans to art and culture are practically immeasurable. One era of African American art, music, literature, and activism was the Harlem Renaissance between 1919 and the early 1940s. During this period, writers, painters, and musicians in Harlem helped establish a voice for African American culture in twentieth-century America.


Explore the Black History Month Content Collection, featuring resources selected and created by Discovery Education’s curriculum experts, including lesson starters, video clips, songs, and more.

Featured Resources

LArmstrong_circleThe Harlem Renaissance
Discovery Education Streaming, Social Studies Techbook, Science Techbook
Grades 6-8, 9-12, Video Segment

As the artists of the Harlem Renaissance explored their own past and culture, much of white America was learning about the African American experience for the first time. While the Renaissance included a wide range of cultural pursuits, writing, music, and painting were the primary distinguishing art forms.

To learn more about how African American culture expressed its unique voice and the impact it had on all of America, view the video segment The Harlem Renaissance.
BessieSmith_circleThe Birth of Jazz
Discovery Education Streaming, Social Studies Techbook
Grades 6-8, 9-12, Video Segment

Have students look for ways that the music of the Harlem Renaissance influenced other aspects of culture at the time while watching The Birth of Jazz. They may note its impact on fashion, dance, and literature, among others.
graffiti_circleHip Hop Roots
Discovery Education Streaming, Social Studies Techbook
Grades 6-8, 9-12, Video Segment

The Harlem Renaissance and the jazz age marked the first time that African American music and culture made their way into popular culture, and for the first time in America, the culture of a minority was embraced by the majority. The modern hip hop movement has similarly influenced popular culture. Have students watch Hip Hop Roots to learn more about the origins and elements of hip hop culture. Have students compare and contrast the impact of the Harlem Renaissance and hip hop on society by organizing their facts and ideas through SOS: Get VENN-y with It.
SOS: Connect the Dots

Have students continue their research on the Harlem Renaissance and hip hop while drawing connections between that era, themselves, and modern popular culture using SOS: Connect the Dots.

Additional Resources

Additional resources about moments, people, and themes of the Harlem Renaissance to explore:

Discovery Education Streaming Plus users can also view a complete, standards-aligned lesson plan at “The Harlem Renaissance: Giving Voice to a Culture.”

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