abolitionist (n; adj)
a person who spoke, wrote, or fought against slavery. Some abolitionists were free African Americans, others were escaped slaves, and many were Caucasian; of or relating to the anti-slavery movement
Art Deco (n)
a decorative movement fashionable during the 1920s and 1930s and characterized by geometric, streamlined shapes and the use of contrasting, often luxurious, materials. The movement was named after the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes, an exhibition held in Paris in 1925.
a kingdom in the rainforest of West Africa bordering Nigeria. Benin is ruled by the Oba, a king who is believed to be descended from the gods. The history of the Benin kingdom dates back to at least the 13th century.
Chicago’s vibrant South Side community whose population mushroomed from 14,000 in 1890 to 109,000 by 1920 due to the Great Migration. Also known as the Black Belt, this area was defined on the north by 31st Street and on the south by Pershing Road. Its east and west borders were Interstate 94 and Cottage Grove Avenue. The community became home to more than 90 percent of Chicago’s black population by the 1930s.
derived from the French verb coller ("to glue"): a work of art made by sticking pieces of paper, newsprint, photographs, fabric, or other items onto a flat backing. Collages often include painted passages.
an assembly (usually three-dimensional) of diverse materials, such as found objects
related to the early 20th-century art movement led by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) and Georges Braque (1882–1963) that used abstract, fragmented shapes to depict several views of the same subject simultaneously, emphasizing the basic geometry or structure of the subject
invented in France in 1839, one of the two original forms of photography. Daguerreotypes are unique, non-reproducible images produced on copper plates coated with silver that has been made sensitive to light. Daguerreotype images are remarkably clear and detailed, which makes them perfect for portraits.
Douglass, Frederick (1857–1895)
African American ex-slave whose speeches and writings brought him to the forefront of the American abolitionist movement. Douglass became the first black citizen to hold high rank in the U.S. government as minister and consul general to Haiti.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803–1882)
American lecturer, poet, and essayist, the leading exponent of a 19th-century movement of New England writers and philosophers called Transcendentalism. Transcendentalists adhered to an idealistic system of thought based on a belief in the essential unity of all creation, the innate goodness of man, and the supremacy of insight over logic.
from the Italian word fresco ("fresh"): a painting executed on moist plaster. One particular type of fresco, called buon fresco (literally, "good fresco"), causes the painting to fuse with the plaster, becoming part of the wall itself. The ancient technique reached its height during the Italian Renaissance.
Great Migration (n)
the massive resettlement, spanning the decades from 1910 to 1970, of over six million African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North in search of jobs and freedom from discrimination
Harlem Renaissance (n)
during the 1920s, the creative outburst of art, dance, literature, and music centered in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. The movement spread to other places as well, including Chicago’s Bronzeville. It is also known as the New Negro Movement, after art historian Alain Locke’s watershed book The New Negro, which urged black artists to reclaim their ancestral heritage as a means of strengthening their own expression.
Harper’s Ferry Raid (n)
one of the major events that precipitated the Civil War. On October 16, 1859, an armed band of abolitionists led by John Brown attacked the arms arsenal of Harper's Ferry (then located in Virginia). The two-day raid was intended to help create an independent stronghold of freed slaves in the mountains of Maryland and Virginia. However, Brown and his band of 16 whites and 5 blacks were overwhelmed by federal troops. Seventeen men died in the raid, and Brown and six surviving followers were hanged before the end of the year.
an often improvisational musical form developed during the 1920s by African Americans and influenced by European harmonic structure and African rhythmic complexity. It can be identified by its characteristic blues rhythms and distinctive speech intonations.
New Deal (n)
the domestic policies introduced under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1932 to 1945, which stressed government aid and special programs to help the needy and improve conditions for workers.
New Negro Movement (n)
see Harlem Renaissance
from the French word renaissance ("rebirth"): in 15th- and 16th-century Europe, a revival of art, architecture, learning, and literature that emphasized and often imitated Classical examples from ancient Greece and Rome. Although the Renaissance was centered in Italy, various aspects of it also appeared in Northern Europe (particularly Flanders, the Netherlands, and Germany), especially during the 16th century.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (n)
a main cultural force from the Harlem Renaissance through the Great Depression that sponsored exhibitions, lectures, and performances to heighten awareness of the Harlem community’s ancestral heritage. The center, located at the Countee Cullen branch of the New York Public Library at 135th Street, is named after Arthur Schomburg, whose collection formed the basis for what is now the most extensive repository of documents and texts on black studies in the nation.
Tubman, Harriet (c.1820–1913)
African American woman who escaped from slavery to become a leading abolitionist before the Civil War. She led hundreds of slaves to freedom in the North along the Underground Railroad.
Underground Railroad (n)
an elaborate secret network of safe houses organized to help fugitive slaves escape to Canada or other places of safety before the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863
Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project: a relief program for artists created in 1935 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The WPA also included the Federal Theater Project, the Federal Writer’s Project, and the Federal Music Project, all of which offered employment to actors, critics, writers, and musicians. All of these programs ended in 1943.