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Alain L. Locke: Biography of a Philosopher

by Leonard Harris Charles Molesworth

Alain L. Locke (1886-1954), in his famous 1925 anthology "The New Negro", declared that "the pulse of the Negro world has begun to beat in Harlem". Often called the father of the Harlem Renaissance, Locke had his finger directly on that pulse, promoting, influencing, and sparring. Leonard Harris and Charles Molesworth trace Locke's story through his Philadelphia upbringing, his undergraduate years at Harvard and his tenure as the first African American Rhodes Scholar. The heart of their narrative illuminates Locke's heady years in 1920s New York City and his forty-year career at Howard University, where he helped spearhead the adult education movement of the 1930s and wrote on topics ranging from the philosophy of value to the theory of democracy. Harris and Molesworth show that throughout this illustrious career -- despite a formal manner that many observers interpreted as elitist or distant -- Locke remained a warm and effective teacher and mentor, as well as a fierce champion of literature and art as means of breaking down barriers between communities. The multifaceted portrait that emerges from this engaging account effectively reclaims Locke's rightful place in the pantheon of America's most important minds.

And Bid Him Sing: A Biography of Countee Cullen

by Charles Molesworth

While competing with Langston Hughes for the title of "Poet Laureate of Harlem," Countée Cullen (1903-46) crafted poems that became touchstones for American readers, both black and white. Inspired by classic themes and working within traditional forms, Cullen shaped his poetry to address universal questions like love, death, longing, and loss while also dealing with the issues of race and idealism that permeated the national conversation. Drawing on the poet's unpublished correspondence with contemporaries and friends like Hughes, Claude McKay, Carl Van Vechten, Dorothy West, Charles S. Johnson and Alain Locke, and presenting a unique interpretation of his poetic gifts, And Bid Him Sing is the first full-length critical biography of this famous American writer. Despite his untimely death at the age of forty-two, Cullen left behind an extensive body of work. In addition to five books of poetry, he authored two much-loved children's books and translated Euripides' Medea, the first translation by an African American of a Greek tragedy. In these pages, Charles Molesworth explores the many ways that race, religion, and Cullen's sexuality informed the work of one of the unquestioned stars of the Harlem Renaissance. An authoritative work of biography that brings to life one of the chief voices of his generation, And Bid Him Sing returns to us one of America's finest lyric poets in all of his complexity and musicality.

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