Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

By Leonard Harris

Alain L. Locke (1886-1954), in his recognized 1925 anthology The New Negro, declared that “the pulse of the Negro global has began to overcome in Harlem.” known as the daddy of the Harlem Renaissance, Locke had his finger at once on that pulse, selling, influencing, and sparring with such figures as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Jacob Lawrence, Richmond Barthé, William provide nonetheless, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Bunche, and John Dewey. The long-awaited first biography of this terribly proficient thinker and author, Alain L. Locke narrates the untold tale of his profound influence on twentieth-century America’s cultural and highbrow life.

 
Leonard Harris and Charles Molesworth hint this tale via Locke’s Philadelphia upbringing, his undergraduate years at Harvard—where William James helped spark his influential engagement with pragmatism—and his tenure because the first African American Rhodes student. the guts in their narrative illuminates Locke’s heady years in Twenties manhattan urban and his forty-year occupation at Howard collage, the place he helped spearhead the grownup schooling flow of the Nineteen Thirties and wrote on issues starting from the philosophy of worth to the speculation of democracy. Harris and Molesworth exhibit that all through this illustrious career—despite a proper demeanour that many observers interpreted as elitist or distant—Locke remained a hot and powerful instructor and mentor, in addition to a fierce champion of literature and paintings as technique of breaking down obstacles among communities.

 
The multifaceted portrait that emerges from this attractive account successfully reclaims Locke’s rightful position within the pantheon of America’s most crucial minds.

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Extra resources for Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher

Sample text

The social aspects and values in human experience are inescapably there but are likely to be more than occasionally a source of pollution, even though this very threat, as the surreptitiousness suggests, is to be mediated in socially acceptable ways. One modern historian of Philadelphia has described the city’s culture as being a mixture of the patrician and the provincial, a combination that set it off from other cities of similar size such as Boston and New York: Patrician, because of the close relationship of families composing its principal social and financial institutions; indifferent, rather than hostile to the rising new rich, even when the latter were ready to make their public contributions.

At this time Mason, for her part, was full of ideas that equated the so-called primitivism of colored peoples with an energy that would revitalize a decadent Western civilization, and she felt Locke was too cautious and repressed in announcing his own excellence. Locke may have been responding to her when he proposed a self-description that stressed the need to break down certain forms of control. He goes on to reminisce about the family’s sense of propriety: The family was always honest with itself behind closed doors—But how those doors were barricaded!

He took the entrance examination for nearby Haverford College, and while he passed Latin, despite his earlier good marks in mathematics, he missed the mark in algebra and plane geometry, thereby failing to be admitted. Instead of Haverford, however, Locke entered the School of Pedagogy and Practice. This was an extension of Central High School; today it would be called a teachers’ college. Organized to devote one year to the practical aspects of teaching and another to the theory and principles of instruction, it eventually provided Locke with the avenue to considerably more education than even Haverford would have offered.

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