The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
by Jeffrey C. Stewart
Oxford University Press. 932 pages, $39.95
THIS DETAILED BIOGRAPHY tells the life story of Alain Locke, one of the major forces behind the Harlem Renaissance. As a critic and public intellectual, he helped establish the careers of many black writers and artists. The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke examines the intersections and complications of race, class, and sexuality.
Born in Philadelphia in 1885 to middle-class black teachers, Locke was raised to pursue academic excellence. Sickly and small (under five feet), he attended Harvard and became the first African-American to win a Rhodes Scholarship. At Oxford University in England, he experienced racism for the first time, as winners from southern states attempted to exclude him from their social events.