Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trend-spotter …

… Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance | Morris Dickstein. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Only a few years earlier this dandified, eccentric writer, bisexual, bohemian, had grown “violently interested” in Negro culture and Harlem life, especially its night life, and had quickly gotten to know everyone there, from civil rights leaders like Du Bois, Johnson, and Walter White at the NAACP to upcoming young writers like Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Zora Neale Hurston. He led slumming visitors such as Somerset Maugham on exotic tours, cruised the streets and cabarets till dawn, and invited his new black friends to dazzling parties at his home on West 55th Street, breaking down social barriers at a time when New York was anything but an integrated city.

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