I, Too, Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100

By Hailey Stangebye

The Harlem Renaissance campaign started with a simple idea: Why don’t we use the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance as an opportunity to celebrate black art in Columbus?

We took that seed of an idea and nurtured it into a city-wide movement that tells the history of the Harlem Renaissance in Columbus, while simultaneously supporting our local, black artists with platforms for expression.

Our first challenge was education. To do that, we had to answer a simple question: Why should we celebrate the Harlem Renaissance in the middle of Ohio?

Our first challenge was education. To do that, we had to answer a simple question: Why should we celebrate the Harlem Renaissance in the middle of Ohio? Here’s the answer: We should celebrate the anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance in Columbus because there are a multitude of historical and contemporary connections between Columbus and Harlem. Moreover, the Harlem Renaissance, as a phenomenon, wasn’t limited to the physical locale of Harlem.

The Harlem Renaissance was — to a degree — catalyzed by the Great Migration, where African Americans moved from the rural south to urban, northern cities. One of those northern cities is Columbus, Ohio. The result was an extraordinary bloom of artistic and intellectual celebration in these close, urban communities.

I, Too, Sing America: Harlem Renaissance at 100 Promo Video from Warhol & WALL ST. on Vimeo.

For the 100th anniversary, our goal was to celebrate this explosion of cultural pride and artistic expression by recreating that renaissance environment with a modern twist. We did so through storytelling, murals, gallery shows, a museum exhibit, block parties and so much more.

We also used this opportunity to take five local artists on a trip from Columbus to Harlem. A musician, a dancer, an artist, a fashion designer and a poet each had an opportunity to connect with other passionate creatives in their respective fields. The takeaways from that journey were so compelling that we compiled those stories into a feature-length documentary. That film, “My Great Day in Harlem,” captures a stunning moment in Columbus history.

The takeaways from that journey were so compelling that we compiled those stories into a feature-length documentary.

My Great Day in Harlem from Warhol & WALL ST. on Vimeo.

Through passionate stories and authentic experiences, we created a lasting impact on the cultural landscape of this city. The most exciting part about this campaign is that it will never truly end. The new murals, friendships and forms of inspiration that were forged in this celebration will continue to shape Columbus for the better.

That’s definitely something worth celebrating. #cbusharlem100

The Harlem Renaissance Experience at Gallery Hop from Warhol & WALL ST. on Vimeo.