In the "On Love" blog there is a link to some information about Ruby McCollum. I won’t go into the details of her case and how little agency was given to her during her trial, at least not today. What I will say is that her story was covered by Zora Neale Hurston, a famed Harlem Renaissance writer.
Zora Neale Hurston would be my introduction to Ruby McCollum when I researched Hurston as part of my college studies. When I was in college, I took some courses just for my own fun and enjoyment, especially in graduate school. I knew that once I graduated it would take a Herculean effort for me to consider attending college again, and largely aside from a class here and there that has held true.
What I decided to do was to give myself the Black history education I was denied as a K-12 student. I also was interested in learning more about the music, art and culture my father may have been exposed to as a younger person as he often sung Louis Armstrong songs to me as a child before bed. That desire to learn Black history included an African American History After the Civil War and a Caribbean Literature course, along with a few others. One of the large areas of focus in those two classes was the Harlem Renaissance
For the Culture
The Harlem Renaissance is described as the development of Harlem New York as a Black cultural collective in the early turn of the 20th century. Initially after the Civil War things looked up for many Black families during Reconstruction. However, any gains during that period were quickly squashed under Andrew Johnson’s administration and the instating of the Black Codes, the precursor to Jim Crow.
This oppression and lack of work fueled Black migration from the agricultural south to the industrial north. White families in New York city fled from the area in response and from 1910-1920 Black Americans moved to the Harlem area causing a population boom. Civil Rights leaders like W.E. B. DuBois encouraged Black American intellectual pursuits and getting credit for them. This led to an explosion of creative expression in music, writing and visual arts. This explosion would give us names of creatives and activists that we still speak about today.
Go Forth and Learn
Usually, I would give more history in my blogs and provide more links, however this blog is different. When talking about the Harlem Renaissance like DuBois, I want to give the artists of that time their voice. So instead of reading my words I would like you to read theirs.