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Harlem On My Mind: Jessie Redmon Fauset

Part 3: How one steadfast literary editor helped ignite the Harlem Renaissance

About this episode:

In Part 3 of Into America’s Black History Month series, Harlem on My Mind, Trymaine Lee spotlights the influence of Jessie Redmon Fauset. Langston Hughes called her one of the midwives of the Harlem Renaissance, but few today remember her name.

As literary editor for NAACP’s The Crisis magazine, Fauset fostered the careers of many notable writers of the time: poets Countee Cullen and Gwendolyn Bennet, novelist Nella Larsen, writer Claude McCay. Fauset was the first person to publish Langston Hughes, when The Crisis printed the poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Fauset was also a writer, penning essays and poems. She went on to write four novels, including There is Confusion (1924). Her focus on bourgeois characters and women’s ambition shaped the conversation about Black identity in Harlem at the time.

Dr. Julia S. Charles, professor of English at Auburn University, sheds light on the full scope of Fauset’s work, including her complicated relationship with Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and other notable Black thinkers. Author Morgan Jerkins describes how Fauset’s legacy has inspired her own work as a writer, editor, and resident of today’s Harlem.

Special thanks to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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Find the transcript here.

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