Icon of the Harlem Renaissance, Jack Johnson
Professor Robert O’Meally offers an overview of the roots and legacy of the Harlem Renaissance; photo courtesy of Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens

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The Harlem Renaissance: Yesterday and Today

Dubbed the “fight of the century,” Black heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson made history when he trounced his White rival on July 4, 1910, in Reno, Nevada, leading to both celebrations and riots across the United States. Johnson successfully opened a series of popular interracial nightclubs, was persecuted for his marriage to a White woman, and he also avoided sparring with other Black boxers in the ring. Johnson’s complicated legacy is echoed in the continued discrimination and outrage leveled against today’s Black athlete-activists. Is today’s Black Lives Matter movement an extension of the Harlem Renaissance? That’s the question Professor Robert G. O’Meally, the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English at Columbia University, asks to frame his overview of the roots and legacy of the movement that spanned more than two decades. The hour-long virtual lecture hosted by Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens expands on the the Renaissance’s import beyond the literary elite of 1920s Harlem. O’Meally is one of the compelling featured speakers in the October lecture series supporting the ongoing exhibit Roaring Twenties: The Life and Style of Marjorie Merriweather Post. The livestream lecture starts at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 via the museum’s website. hillwoodmuseum.org. Free–$10.