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By Leonard Harris

Alain L. Locke (1886-1954), in his recognized 1925 anthology The New Negro, declared that “the pulse of the Negro international 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 supply 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 Nineteen Twenties big apple urban and his forty-year profession at Howard college, the place he helped spearhead the grownup schooling flow of the Nineteen Thirties and wrote on subject matters starting from the philosophy of price to the speculation of democracy. Harris and Molesworth express 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 artwork as technique of breaking down boundaries among communities.

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

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Locke told his mother how the editor, Monroe Trotter, had caused an uproar in 1903 when he disrupted a meeting of the National Negro Business League in Boston. Trotter ended up serving a thirty day sentence for disturbing the peace. This incident brought to a head the rivalry between Du Bois and Washington, as Du Bois was now forced to side with Trotter and his allies. Sentiment in Boston was largely antiWashington, since the liberal blacks of New England saw his Tuskegee idea of practical education as far too accommodationist.

10 Some of the seeds of Jamesian pragmatism can be detected in an answer Locke wrote for his mid-year exam in Royce’s Philosophy 9, just about one year later than the Philosophy 4 exam: Experience . . is not coterminous with perception [or] with consciousness, but is especially reserved for that realm of the external meaning, that field of the verification of mental facts, which by reason of its apparent externality and objectivity seems to be a realm of independent validity that confirms or refutes our mental purposes, as they are expressed or attempted to be expressed in actions.

Locke’s relationship with his mother grew and deepened and solidified over the years. She came to represent all the ideals that he felt were worth striving for, and when he began to outstrip her cultural learning he saw to it that her reading was widened and her cultural activities maintained or even increased. He was able in his later years to comprehend the relationship in something like a three-dimensional context. One of his autobiographical notes sums it up with striking clarity and honesty: My wise and loving Mother dipped me as a very young child in the magic waters of cold cynicism and haughty distrust and disdain of public opinion and died with satisfaction of an almost hurt-proof child.

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