The New Negro Arts and Letters Movement Among Black University Students in the Midwest, 1914-1940

Richard M. Breaux, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Published in Great Plains Quarterly 24:3 (Summer 2004). Copyright © 2004 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


The 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s were an exciting time for black artists and writers in the United States. Much of the historical literature highlights the so-called Harlem Renaissance or its successor, the Black Chicago Renaissance. Few studies, however, document the influence of these artistic movements outside major urban cities such as New York, Chicago, or Washington, DC. In his 1988 essay on black education, historian Ronald Butchart argued that the educational effects of black social movements such as the Harlem Renaissance on black schooling are unclear and underexplored. This article explores the influence of the New Negro arts and letters movement on black students at four mid-western state universities from 1914 to 1940.