Alain Leroy Locke was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. In a popular publication, The Black 100, Alain Locke ranks as the 36th most influential African American ever, past or present. Distinguished as the first African American Rhodes Scholar in 1907, Locke was the philosophical architect—the acknowledged “Dean”—of the Harlem Renaissance, a period of cultural efflorescence connected with the “New Negro” movement from 1919–1934. Locke’s importance as the ideological genius of the Harlem Renaissance is of great historical moment, immortalized in the Harlem Number of The Survey Graphic 6.6, a special issue on race for which Locke served as guest editor. That edition was entitled, Harlem, Mecca of the New Negro, which Locke subsequently recast as an anthology, The New Negro: An Interpretation of Negro Life, published in December 1925. A landmark in black literature, it was an instant success. Locke contributed five essays: the “Foreword,” “The New Negro,” “Negro Youth Speaks,” “The Negro Spirituals,” and “The Legacy of Ancestral Arts.” On March 19, 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaimed: “We’re going to let our children know that the only philosophers that lived were not Plato and Aristotle, but W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke came through the universe.”
. . . not by way of the forced and worn formula of Romaticism, but throught the closeness of an imagination that has never broken kinship with nature. Art must accept such gifts, and revaluate the giver.