September 13, 1885: Happy Birthday Alain Locke

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Alain Leroy Locke was a writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. In a popular publication, The Black 100, Alain Locke ranks as the 36th most influential African American ever, past or present. 

Distinguished as the 1st African American Rhodes Scholar in 1907, Locke was the philosophical architect—the acknowledged “Dean”—of the Harlem Renaissance, a period of cultural efflorescence connected with the “New Negro” movement from 1919 to 1934. 

Locke’s importance as the ideological genius of the Harlem Renaissance is of great historical moment, immortalized in the Harlem Number of The Survey Graphic 6.6 (March 1, 1925), a special issue on race for which Locke served as guest editor. That edition was entitled, Harlem, Mecca of the New Negro, which Locke subsequently recast as an anthology, The New Negro: An Interpretation of Negro Life, published in December 1925. A landmark in black literature (later acclaimed as the “first national book” of African America), it was an instant success. Locke contributed five essays: the “Foreword,” “The New Negro,” “Negro Youth Speaks,” “The Negro Spirituals,” and “The Legacy of Ancestral Arts.” 

On March 19, 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaimed: “We’re going to let our children know that the only philosophers that lived were not Plato and Aristotle, but W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke came through the universe.”

LEGACY: ?Schools named after Alain Locke:

?Alain L. Locke Elementary School PS 208 in South Harlem

?The Locke High School in Los Angeles.

?The Alain Locke Public School is an elementary school in West Philadelphia

?Alain Locke Charter Academy in Chicago.

?Alain Locke Elementary School in Gary, Indiana

?Locke Hall at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

?In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Alain LeRoy Locke on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

2 Comments

  • Robert Warfield September 13, 2017 - 12:44 pm Reply

    Alain Locke one of the best educators in the black communities.

  • Emmett Ligler May 27, 2019 - 8:48 pm Reply

    Good post. Thanks.

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