Honoring the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, four of the movement’s greatest voices: novelist Nella Larsen; writer, philosopher, educator and arts advocate Alain Locke; bibliophile and historian Arturo Alfonso Schomburg; and poet Anne Spencer are honored on a set of four stamps.
The stamps feature stylized pastel portraits of the four honorees, based on historic photographs. Each stamp incorporates African-inspired motifs as background elements. The design elements reflect the increased interest in African culture, history, and aesthetics shown by the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance.
After World War I, many highly creative African Americans flocked to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, where the northward migration of African Americans looking for work, immigration from the Caribbean and the presence of important activist organizations had all helped to establish Harlem as a bustling center of black life.
Caught up in a whirl of friendships and rivalries, a legendary social scene and an inspiring air of creative exchange, a dynamic community of African Americans brought forth an exceptional flourishing of literature, music and the visual arts. By no means restricted to New York City, the creative energy that found its strongest expression in Harlem during the 1920s was also evident in Chicago; Washington, DC; and other communities where African Americans sought to articulate their experiences and give shape to their dreams.
New generations of African American artists and writers created work that reflected the changing times. Fostering some of the great American literary voices of the early 20th century, the Harlem Renaissance firmly established African Americans as a vital force in literature and the arts.
An ardent bibliophile and self-taught historian, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938) demonstrated the worldwide contributions of people of African descent. By tirelessly collecting books, documents, artwork and other materials, Schomburg rescued black history from obscurity and preserved priceless cultural knowledge for future generations.