A Harlem Renaissance Retrospective: Connecting Art, Music, Dance, and Poetry

The Harlem Renaissance was a vibrant time that was characterized by innovations in art, literature, music, poetry, and dance. Resources are provided to help students understand the historical context of the Harlem Renaissance and what kind of impact it had on African Americans in the United States. Critical thinking, creativity, and interdisciplinary connections are emphasized. Students conduct internet research, work with an interactive Venn diagram tool, and create a museum exhibit that highlights the work of selected artists, musicians, and poets.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3003.2.5
Understand strategies for expressing ideas clearly and effectively in a variety of oral contexts.
CLE 3003.2.6
Deliver effective oral presentations.
CLE 3003.2.7
Participate in work teams and group discussions.
CLE 3003.4.2
Gather relevant information from a variety of print and electronic sources, as well as from direct observation, interviews, and surveys.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • Research, evaluate, and synthesize information about the Harlem Renaissance from varied resources
  • Highlight their understanding of the Harlem Renaissance through the creation of an exhibit
  • Highlight connections across varied disciplines (i.e., art, music, and poetry) using a Venn diagram
  • Demonstrate an understanding, through oral presentations and reflective writing, of the effects of the Harlem Renaissance on African Americans

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • Have students complete some of the classroom activities on the ARTSEDGE Drop Me Off in Harlem website.
  • Have the class listen to the NPR’s Jazz Profiles: Parts 1–5, featuring an interview with Duke Ellington.
  • Share the following statement with students and ask them to respond in writing:
    • “Harlem was not so much a place as a state of mind, the cultural metaphor for black America itself.” —Langston Hughes 
  • Ask groups to create a mock interview with the artist, musician, or poet that they researched.
  • Ask students to choose one of the artists from the lesson, and respond in writing to the following questions:
    • How can I find personal relevance in this artist’s work?
    • Are there any current artists that remind me of the work of this Harlem Renaissance artist?

Helpful Hints


  • Computers with Internet access
  • Art supplies
  • LCD projector (optional)