This is the sixth episode in Public Seminar’s podcast, Exiles on 12th Street. If you like it, go to iTunesSpotifyStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and subscribe.

In April, we covered the Civil Rights movement and the fight against racism in “The Fire This Time.” This month, we explore the lasting impact of the Harlem Renaissance in “The New Negro,” as our guests take us on a journey through art, culture, and politics. Author A’Lelia Bundles shares how her ancestors Madam C. J. Walker and A’Lelia Walker used a self-made haircare fortune to support Civil Rights activism and a Black cultural and creative renaissance in Harlem. Jazz composer and musician Craig Harris reflects on his collaborations with the poet Sekou Sundiata in the wake of the Black Arts Movement in NYC. And Brooklyn-based novelist Kaitlyn Greenidge talks about the new generation of Black writers and artists depicting African American history. The episode is presented by your host, Claire Potter, co-executive editor of Public Seminar and professor of history at The New School for Social Research.

Here are some links and references mentioned in this podcast:

  • Bundles mentions that Madam Walker purchased the “Villa Lewaro” mansion in Irvington, NY. The mansion can be seen in the photo below.
  • A’Lelia Walker hosted writers, musicians and artists during the nineteen-twenties at her Dark Tower salon on West 136th Street in Harlem. The salon was named after the poem “From the Dark Tower” by Countee Cullen, which A’Lelia Bundles read in this episode of Exiles.
  • Harris kindly provided permission for Exiles on 12th Street to include clips from his musical collaborations with Sekou Sundiata on this episode. They are, in order of appearance: “Foreplay Two,” “Foreplay Three,” and “Foreplay Four,” from the album 4 Play by Harris’s band Cold Sweat (JMT Productions, 1991).
  • Harris mentions Gylan Kain, a poet who influenced Sundiata’s work. Kain was an original member of The Last Poets, a group of poets and musicians who helped lay the groundwork for hip hop.
  • Writer Kaitlyn Greenidge talks about her debut novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman. The book follows an African American family who raise a chimp as a member of their family — all the while under the scrutiny of white scientists.

Episode image courtesy of A’Lelia Bundles.