‘Remembering the Harlem Renaissance’

ST. PETERSBURG – The Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, located at 2240 9th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, will play host to an afternoon of cultural and artistic expression when the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association presents “Remembering the Harlem Renaissance” this Sun., Feb. 15 at 3 p.m.

The Harlem Renaissance was a time for cultural celebration. To find the new freedom that had been promised by the end of bondage, African Americans migrated to the North in great numbers. Here they found a new freedom and expressed themselves in an explosion of cultural pride.

This program/concert will present to you Phyllis McEwen portraying Zora Neale Hurston, a renowned black author during the Harlem Renaissance. Poet Phyllis McEwen is a Chautauqua scholar and Florida Humanities Council performance artist.  She is a librarian for Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library System and an instructor in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of South Florida.

McEwen will share the life and thoughts of Hurston, the most significant black woman writer of the first half of the 20th century.  Over a career that spanned more than 30 years, Hurston published four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, several essays, articles and plays.  She was notoriously charming among contemporaries, and influenced more than a generation of subsequent black writers.

Hurston’s novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was about a proud, independent black woman and was first published in 1937. It was generally dismissed by male reviewers and was out of print for almost 30 years until it was reissued in paperback edition in 1978.

Now, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” has become the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

Musicians will play music from this era with commentary by Kenny Walker. Jazz and the Blues reflecting the sounds of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and others will bounce off the walls of the Woodson Museum. You’ll hear improvisation guaranteeing that no two performances will be the same.

We hope you enjoy this afternoon of cultural presentations and that it will give you a better appreciation into this special time in African-American history.

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