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

By Leonard Harris

Alain L. Locke (1886-1954), in his well-known 1925 anthology The New Negro, declared that “the pulse of the Negro international has all started to overcome in Harlem.” referred to as the daddy of the Harlem Renaissance, Locke had his finger without delay 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 effect 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 ny urban and his forty-year profession at Howard collage, the place he helped spearhead the grownup schooling stream of the Nineteen Thirties and wrote on themes starting from the philosophy of price to the idea 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 potent instructor and mentor, in addition to a fierce champion of literature and artwork as technique of breaking down limitations 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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Additional info for Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher

Sample text

Have greater care of his personal conduct than he who has no such ancestry. . [T]he extreme of such pride is a haughty overbearing air but this is less harmful to both individual and society than one which is laxly democratic. (ALPHU 164-152/9) Soon the word “ancestry” will return in Locke’s personal lexicon, and this passage reveals how he was able to write about himself while at the same time pretending to objectivity. Not all of Locke’s work at the School of Pedagogy was to remain unpublished.

This had something to do with the long-standing Philadelphian tradition of privacy. 13 These generalizations might not apply directly to the African American community, of course, but they would set a standard of social values of which even the Lockes would be aware. And since Locke uses a vocabulary of family life that reflects some of these principles, it is apparent, in an important sense, that he was a true Philadelphian. Locke’s relationship with his mother grew and deepened and solidified over the years.

I am going to be choice [sic] and pick my company,” he told his mother, announcing a determination that continued to grow. He never lacked for ambition, no matter how much his desire to be prominent and respected was mediated through a commitment to education and service. Though Locke came with strong recommendations from Dr. Brandt, his teacher and mentor at the School of Pedagogy, now he was to meet the teachers who had taught—and inspired and measured—the man who had taught him. Cambridge was not all completely new territory for him.

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