Facts about Alain Locke
Alain LeRoy Locke Biography
Writer and educator Alain LeRoy Locke was the editor of 1925’s The New Negro, and he is sometimes called “the father of the Harlem Renaissance” for his influence on African-American art and literature in the early part of the 20th century. He was the son of professionals, a lawyer and teacher, and he excelled at academics — after getting his degree at Harvard in 1907, he studied literature at Oxford University (1910) as the first African-American Rhodes Scholar. Locke studied philosophy at the University of Berlin during 1910 and 1911, then returned to the U.S. At that time most universities wouldn’t hire a black man, even a scholar as impressive as Alain Locke. He joined the faculty of Howard University in Washington, D.C., and spent most of his career there, teaching philosophy from 1912 until 1953 (he had a year off in 1918, when he earned his doctorate from Harvard). His anthology of African-American literature, The New Negro, celebrated the unique experience of black Americans, and his subsequent works, The Negro and His Music (1936) and The Negro in Art (1941), established the idea that black Americans’ artistic expression was rooted in their African heritage.