Haven't found the Essay You Want?
For Only $12.90/page

Art or Propaganda? Essay

1. Introduction.

W.E.B. Dubois and Alain Locke were important contributors to the epoch called “Harlem Renaissance”. With their writings atrists wanted to do something against racism, they wanted to show that the African – Americans don’t have to feel inferior.

Writing in the April, 1915, issue of Crisis, DuBois said: “In art and literature we should try to loose the tremendous emotional wealth of the Negro and the dramatic strength of his problems through writing … and other forms of art. We should resurrect forgotten ancient Negro art and history, and we should set the black man before the world as both a creative artist and a strong subject for artistic treatment.”

DuBois stated what were to be recurrent themes of the decade of the twenties: the Negro as a producer and a subject of art, and the Negro’s artistic output as indices of his contribution to American life. (Linnemann R.J. p 79)

In essense, both Locke and DuBois agreed about what constituted good art. It was the function of art on which they did not agree. DuBois doubted if one could really have a disembodied art or beauty; but Locke was not seeking for the Negro writer a disembodied beauty. (Linnemann, R.J. p 92)

DuBois strongly disagreed with Locke’s view that “Beauty rather than Propaganda should be the object of Negro literature and art. …If Mr. Locke’s thesis is insisted upon too much is going to turn the Negro Renaissance into decadence.” (Marable, M.. p 130)

First I will give some basical facts about the Harlem Renaissance. In the main part I will show the opinions of A. Locke, who preferred arts, and W.E.B. DuBois, who was for propaganda. In point three I will write about DuBois’s life. After that I will show what he wanted in general. The last part of point three I will show why he was for propaganda. Therefore I analysed several of his works, especially his paper “Criteria of Negro art”.

In point four I will introduce Alain Locke with a short biography and then I will show what he wanted for the African – Americans. The second part of point four will show why he preferred art. My focus will be on his anthology “The New Negro” and his article “Art or Propaganda?”.

Basically there were thoughts which DuBois and Locke shared. One example is the idea of education which will play a role in point five. In point six I will give a short summary.

2. The Harlem Renaissance

In the early 1900s, particularly in the 1920s, African-American literature, art, music, dance, and social commentary began to flourish in Harlem, a section of New York City. This African-American cultural movement became known as “The New Negro Movement” and later as the Harlem Renaissance. More than a literary movement, the Harlem Renaissance exalted the unique culture of African-Americans and redefined African-American expression. African-Americans were encouraged to celebrate their heritage. (Johnson, W.)

One of the factors contributing to the rise of the Harlem Renaissance was the great migration of African-Americans to northern cities (such as New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.) between 1919 and 1926. In his influential book The New Negro (1925), Locke described the northward migration of blacks as “something like a spiritual emancipation.” Black urban migration, combined with trends in American society as a whole toward experimentation during the 1920s, and the rise of radical black intellectuals — including Locke, Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and W. E. B. DuBois, editor of The Crisis magazine – all contributed to the particular styles and unprecedented success of black artists during the Harlem Renaissance period.


More than a literary movement and more than a social revolt against racism, the Harlem Renaissance exalted the unique culture of African-Americans and redefined African-American expression. African-Americans were encouraged to celebrate their heritage and to become “The New Negro,” a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke.

3. About W.E.B. DuBois – what did he want?

Pioneer in the struggle for Afro-American liberation and for African liberation, prolific black scholar, W.E.B. DuBois (1868 – 1963) was one of the giants of the twentieth century. (Foner, flap text)

DuBois’ mature vision was a reconcilation of the “sense of double consciousness” – the “two warring ideals” of being both black and American. He came to accept struggle and conflict as essential elements of life, but he continued to believe in the inevitable progress of the human race – that out of individual struggles against a divided self and political struggles of the oppressors, a broader and fuller human life would emerge that would benefit all of mankind (Kerry W.).

Dr. Dubois was awarded the first Spingarn Medal in 1920. This was awarded “to that Negro who achieved the highest in any human endeavor.” He was an activist for global affairs, editor of the NAACP Crisis publication, and set up the meeting for the first Pan-African Congress. He was an individual of principle and conviction. The seeds he planted still nourish us today. (http://www.websn.com/Pride/Pride/w.htm)

To reach racial equality he founded the Niagara Movement – a group of African-American leaders committed to an active struggle for racial equality. The Niagara Movement was founded in 1905, by a group of African-Americans, led by W. E. B. Du Bois, John Hope, and William Monroe Trotter, who called for full civil liberties, an end to racial discrimination, and recognition of human brotherhood. (http://en.wikipedia.org)

W.E.B. DuBois saw that racism and prejudices are a problem. Therefore he wrote: “Once upon a time in my younger years and in the dawn of this century I wrote: ‘The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.’ It was a pert and singing phrase which I then liked and which since I have often rehearsed to my soul and asked:–how far is this prophecy or speculation? Today in the last years of the century’s first quarter, let us examine the matter again, especially in the memory of that great event of these great years, the World War.

Fruit of the bitter rivalries of economic imperialism, the roots of the catastrophe were in Africa, deeply entwined at bottom with the problems of the color line. And of the legacy left, the problems the world inherits hold the same fatal seed; world dissension and catastrophe still lurk in the unsolved problems of race relations. What then is the world view that the consideration of this question offers?.(DuBois, W.E.B. “The Negro Mind Reaches Out”) DuBois wanted to encourage African – American people. In his essay “On Being Ashamed Of Oneself” from 1933 he described the feeling of inferiority. At the same time he encouraged the people to feel confident

“…we must oppose all segregation and all racial patriotism; we must salute the American flag and sing ‘Our country’ Tis of Thee’ with devotion and fervor, and we must fight for our rights with long and carefully planned campaigns; uniting for this purpose with all sympathetic people, colored and white. … But there are certain practical difficulties connected with this program which are becoming more and more clear today. First of all comes the fact that we are still ashamed of ourselves and are thus stopped from valid objection when white folks are ashamed to call us human.” (Weinberg, M. p 12)

DuBois wanted to fight against the problems which African – Americans have. Their bad situation was explained in his paper “The Study Of The Negro Problems”:

“…let us inquire somewhat more carefully under the form under which the Negro problems present themselves today after 275 years of evolution. Their existence is plainly manifested by the fact that a definitely segregated mass of eight millions of Americans do not wholly share the national life of the people, are not an integral part of the social body. The points at which they fail to be incorporated into this group life constitute the particular Negro problems, which can be divided into two distinct and correlated parts, depending on two facts:

First – Negroes do not share the full national life because as a mass they have not reached a sufficiently high grade of culture.

Secondly – They do not share the full national life because there has always existed in America a conviction – varying in intensity, but always widespread – that people of Negro blood should not be admitted into the group life of the nation no matter what their condition might be. Considering the problems arising from the backward development of Negroes, we may say that the mass of this race does not reach the social standards of the nation with respect to a) Economic condition, b) Mental training, c) Social efficiency. ” (Foner, p 108)

Du Bois was a pioneer advocate of the black beauty concept and of black power although he refrained from attaching a color tag. In his “Immediate Program of the American Negro” (April, 1915) he asserted: “The Negro must have power; the power of men, the right to do, to know, to feel and express that knowledge, action and spiritual gift. He must not simply be free from the political tyranny of white folk, he must have the right to vote and rule over the citizens, white and black, to the extent of his proven foresight and ability.” (Moon, H.L.)

One way of looking at it is that the Harlem Renaissance attacked the superstructure of White supremacy while legal and political activists in the 1930s and 1940s began to attack the daily practice of racism through the courts and demonstrations. For example, the Harlem Renaissance is generally credited with heightening awareness of the cultural contributions that African and African American peoples have made to American culture, specifically in music, dance, poetry, and speech, as well as in agriculture, medicine, and inventions.

Here the idea was that (1) racism in America would be undermined not only through protest against racist practices, but also by changing the prevailing images and associations that European Americans, especially educated European Americans, had about Black people. And then (2) by disseminating positive images of African Americans as contributors to American Culture, many of these Harlem Renaissance intellectuals hoped to raise the self-esteem of Black people themselves. A people with a higher self-esteem would be more resistant to segregation and discrimination, and more willing to challenge the system than those who were demoralized.

(Powell, R.)

3.1. How did he want to reach his aims?

After scholar Alain Locke compiled the New Negro – heralding a younger generation of black voices and establishing Harlem as a cultural center – Du Bois vented his ire about the state of the arts in Harlem. At the NAACP’s annual convention in June 1926, Du Bois delivered a lecture entitled “Criteria of Negro Art” in which he insisted that all relevant art should be propaganda. The lecture was later published in a special Crisis series, “The Negro in Art.” (http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/)

In his paper “Criteria of Negro art” W.E.B. DuBois wrote: “Thus all art is propaganda and ever must be, despite the wailing of the purists. I stand in utter shamelessness and say that whatever art I have for writing has been folk to love and enjoy. I do not care a damn for any art that is not used for propaganda. But I do care when propaganda is confined to one side while the other is stripped and silent.” (Weinberg, M. p 258)

DuBois didn’t totally reject art but in his opinion art is supposed to have a message. He points out that there is no need to feel inferior and because of that Black people should fight for their rights.

“Colored people have said: ‘This work must be inferior because it comes from colored people.’ White people have said: ‘It is inferior because it is done by colored people.’ But today there is coming to both the realization that the work of the black man is not always inferior.’ ” ( W.E.B. DuBois “Criteria of Negro art” in: Weinbeg, M. p 255)

I already mentioned that Harlem Renaissance intellectuals wanted to raise people’s self – esteem. In his paper “Criteria of Negro Art” DuBois also emphasizes that the art coming from African – Americans is good.

“And then you know what will be said? It is already being said. Just as soon as true art emerges; just as soon as the black artist appears, someone touches the race on the shoulder and says, 2he did that because he was an American, not because he was a Negro; he was born here; he was trained here; he is not a Negro – what is a Negro anyhow? He is just human; it is the kind of thing you ought to expect.

I do not doubt that the ultimate art coming from black folk is going to be just as beautiful, and beautiful largely in the same ways, as the art that comes from white folk, or yellow, or red; but the point today is that until the art of black folk compels recognition, they will not be rated as human. And when through art they compel recognition, then let the world discover if it will, that their atr is as new as it is old and as old as new.” (Weinberg, M. p 260)

Du Bois’ extreme attitude regarding the relationship between art and politics was not entirely shared by Alain Locke, but adequately expressed the prevailing mood among the intelligentsia in Harlem in the early and middle part of the twenties. Post-war American might still be determined to deny the Negro social, political and economic equality, but art was another matter. It was the chink in the racist’s armour. (Williams, A. p 5)

DuBois believed that art could bridge cultural gaps between black and white Americans if black artists were given the opportunity to explore their talents, because, he reasoned, art can inculcate a sense of cultural heritage and identity to an oppressed group. For DuBois, African culture and African American heritage were rich enough to help blacks in the United States regain their political and cultural consciousness.

DuBois started a forum of discussion in the Crisis magazine, entitled, “How Should the Negro Be Portrayed?” in which he asked artists to write in and
discuss what kinds of images of Black people ought to be disseminated by artists in America. While there was a wide divergence on how much control should be imposed on what images artists should create, most believed that out of the greater access to the publishing and art world would come an abandonment of the racist imagery that predominated in popular American culture and justified, by dehumanizing Black people, the racist social and political practices that also abounded in America in the 1920s and 1930s. Du Bois even coined the phrase, “all art is propaganda” to reflect his view that the purpose of an art movement among African Americans was to combat the negative propaganda against the Negro coming from racist America with a positive propaganda for the Negro. (Powell, R.)

4. About Alain Locke.

For Alain Locke, propaganda was the slanted rhetoric that cautioned the Negro writers of the Harlem Renaissance to avoid. Being a Negro, he knew the harmful effects the contented slave stereotype of a Thomas Nelson Page, the buffoonery of an early Roark Bradford, and the savage beast in the works of Thomas Dixon had on his race. He new that the works of these authors, aside from presenting such insulting and distorted images, neither had verisimilitude nor were they great literature. (Linnemann, R.J. p 91)

African American philosopher – educator Alain LeRoy Locke (1886 – 1954) played an influential role in identifying, nurturing, and publishing the works of young black artists during the New Negro Movement. His philosophy served as a strong motivating force in keeping the energy and passion of the Movement at the forefront. He spent his life seeking to understand the nature of cultural conflicts and suggesting measures that must be taken to reduce conflict and allow harmony to prevail. A fundamental question that lingered in his mind was: How can a multiethnic society, such as that in the United States organize itself so that its diverse groups can live together without intense violent conflicts? (Washington, J. p vii)

He served for many years as a chairman of the philosophy department at Howard University, but his main contribution to American culture lies in his
efforts to make the public aware of the Negro’s aesthetic achievements – from the art and artefacts of Africa to the poetry and novels of the American writer. (The Negro Almanac, p 990)

Alain Locke played an influential role in identifying, nurturing, and publishing the works of young black artists during the New Negro Movement. His philosophy served as a strong motivating force in keeping the energy and passion of the Movement at the forefront. Ernest Mason explains that:

“…much of the creative work of the period was guided by the ideal of the New Negro which signified a range of ethical ideals that often emphasized and intensified a higher sense of group and social cohesiveness. …The writers…literally expected liberation…from their work and were perhaps the first group of Afro-American writers to believe that art could radically transform the artist and attitudes of other human beings.” (Dictionary of Literary Biography

p 313)

As a pioneer collector, Locke was one of the first Americans to write about the significance of African art, demonstrating its importance far beyond an influence on the cubists and other members of the European artistic avant-garde. He wanted all African Americans, in particular contemporary African American artists, to seek inspiration and take pride in their rich artistic heritage. To this end he lectured, organized numerous exhibitions, and wrote the introductions for several landmark catalogs of African art. (http://www.africawithin.com)

In his anthology “The New Negro” (written in 1925) Alain Locke wanted to show that Afro – Americans are able to produce art and literature as well as white people.

He discussed the value of black art in terms of its contribution to community. In his defining essay of 1925, “Enter the New Negro,” for instance, Locke urges young artists to embrace the fullness of their heritage, old customs married to new possibilities. Once again, Locke emphasizes the purpose for artists in doing so: the responsibility of these artists to be leaders for their people. In Locke’s words:

“With his renewed self-respect and self-dependence, the life of the Negro community is bound to enter a new dynamic phase, the buoyancy from within compensating for whatever pressure there may be of conditions without. The migrant masses, shifting from countryside to city, hurdle several generations of experience at a leap, but more important, the same thing happens spiritually in the life-attitudes and self-expression of the Young Negro, in his poetry, his art, his education and his new outlook, . . . From this comes the promise and warrant of a new leadership.”(Locke, A.: Enter The New Negro” in: Bracey, J. p 222)

The “New Negro” emerged from within the black community, in contrast to the white stereotyped literary image of the comic and pathetic plantation black. Alain Locke is acknowledged as the leading black philosopher who asked blacks to recognize their African heritage as “New Negroes”.

4.1. A. Locke -how did he want to reach his aims?

Writing in 1928, Alain Locke, the influential philosopher of the Harlem Renaissance, observed that the fundamental question for any anti-racist social agenda was “Art or Propaganda. Which?” (Locke, A.) Artists and writers of the movement regarded the Harlem Renaissance not simply as a spontaneous flourishing of African-American creativity but as a critical historical moment to be seized in order to alter the course of American racism.

Its social mission, as Locke and many others saw it, was to overturn the prevailing perception of Blacks as inferior to whites. Its effects would be two-fold: fostering pride amongst the Black population and addressing whites from a position of strength. Yet if the anti-racist social agenda of the Harlem Renaissance were to succeed in changing people’s minds about race, Locke believed, it could not proceed rhetorically. Art could offer a new social vision; propaganda would only exacerbate the polarization of Black and white positions. (Thompson, A.)

His strategy was to create a new and an own esthetic in order to strenghten the standing and the self-confidence of African-Americans. (http://userpage.fu berlin.de)

For A. Locke art ist he best means to prove that Black culture and art is as good as the culture and the art of white people.

“… Art in the best sense is rooted in self – expression and whether naive or sophisticated is self – contained. In our spiritual growth genius and talent must more and more choose the role of group expression, or even at times the role of free individualistic expression – in a word must choose art and put aside propaganda.” (Locke, A. “Art or Propaganda?” p 312)

The problem with propaganda, he argued, is that it cannot reframe the terms of the debate. To try to discredit racism is already to accord racist arguments a presumptive legitimacy.

“… My chief objection to propaganda, apart from its besetting sin of monotony and disproportion, is that it perpetuates the position of group inferiority even in crying out against it. For it speaks under the shadow of a dominant majority whom it harangues, cajoles, threatens, or supplicates. It is too extroverted for balance or poise or inner dignity and self-respect. …” (Locke, A. Ibid. p 312. )

Propaganda, in Locke’s view, is inevitably either defensive or strident, if not both. By contrast, art “is rooted in self-expression and whether naive or sophisticated is self-contained.” (Locke,A. Ibid. p 312) Creating its own terms for understanding and appreciation, art allows us to sidestep the received, conventional terms of meaning, and to take up possibilities presented to us within the “self-contained” realm of the individual work. While art could not “completely accomplish” the transformation needed to realign Black and white relations in American society, Locke believed that it could “lead the way.” (Locke, Ibid. p 312)

For the most part, therefore, the art and literature of the Harlem Renaissance were expressive rather than creative, creative rather than argumentative. And it was specifically because they avoided propaganda, avoided engaging racist ideology directly, that Locke believed that art and literature could teach the truth about blackness in the white world. For Locke, the educational value of the movement consisted above all in its capacity to represent blackness without reference to the terms set by a racist society. Disregarding conventional perceptions and assumptions, art could offer an objective look at black experience, physiognomy, and heritage. (Thompson, A. p 18)

Key to Locke’s notion of art as education is its avoidance of argumentation. For him, the problem posed by propaganda is not that it serves a particular agenda – obviously, he meant for art to serve a distinct social, political, and intellectual agenda. The problem with propaganda, as he saw it, is that it is reactive, and thus reliant upon the very assumptions it is intended to displace. Unlike the more familiar opposition between propaganda and common sense or between propaganda and open inquiry, Locke’s art/propaganda dichotomy suggests that the most important obstacle to social understanding may be a form of literal-mindedness: accepting our starting points as a given and seeking change through incremental adjustments.

In effect, then, Locke rejects the kind of approach to promoting interracial understanding taken by liberal education. In the traditional liberal arts model, the path to a freer understanding is through careful analysis, reasoned argumentation, and dialogue. But from Locke’s perspective, that approach reintroduces at every turn the very assumptions that preclude a transformed understanding. Particularly in the case of Black/white relations, what is called for is a reorientation in our thinking rather than the correction of each and every error in existing understandings. As a pragmatist, Locke saw change not in terms of incremental improvement but in terms of shifts: adopting new positions and entering into new relations.

Whereas propaganda, in Locke’s formulation, refers to an emendatory or editing impulse, art refers to the development of new perspectives. The importance of art lies in its refusal to read social convention literally. As a metaphor for anti-racist education, it means, in part, problematizing the supposedly neutral standards that privilege whiteness, and, in part, reconceiving both whiteness and Blackness. In invoking art as the opposite of propaganda, though, Locke grants too much to art. By holding on to Enlightenment assumptions about truth, Locke proposes a misleading role for art as somehow apolitical in contrast to propaganda as inherently ideological.

The romantic strain in Locke’s conception of art is revealed in his belief that “the art of the people,” specifically peoples of African ancestry, is “…a tap root of vigorous, flourishing living.” (Locke, A. “Art or Propaganda” p 313) Such art, he believed, is the source of a beauty that reveals truth, for unlike academic art, it has not been subjected to “generations of the inbreeding of style and idiom,” (Locke, A. “The Legacy of the Ancestral Arts,” p 258) nor lost the capacity to see objectively.

“The Negro physiognomy must be freshly and objectively conceived on its own patterns if it is ever to be seriously and importantly interpreted. Art must discover and reveal the beauty which prejudice and caricature have overlaid. And all vital art discovers beauty and opens our eyes to that which previously we could not see. “(Locke,A. Ibd. p 264)

Art, Locke believed, offered a way to break with old stereotypes and invent new forms, while remaining true to “some sort of characteristic idiom,” (Locke,A. Ibd. p 267) is a distinctive heritage and expressive style. Pragmatist that he was, he saw art as a way to come to experience both with a fresh eye and with the funded experience of a rich ancestral legacy.

(Thompson, A. in: “Anti-Racist Pedagogy: Art or Propaganda?”)

5. What is it that DuBois and Locke have in common?

A. Locke and W.E.B. DuBois had different opinions about the question whether art or propaganda is the right way to integrate the African – Americans into the American society. I have written about W.E.B. DuBois ,who is for propaganda, and about A. Locke, who is for art, so far. What we should keep in mind is: basically they wanted the same. The thing they have in common is that they generally had the same ideas: they wanted to do domething for the African – Amerians, they wanted a “racial uplift”. (http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~wilker/harlem/Bildungselite.htm)

One example is the idea of education and the idea of a Black elite, which they both shared.

It is obvious that DuBois and Locke felt that the Black elite (or Talented Tenth) were to articulate the Black ideals for which the masses were to strive. A task that required members of the Talented Tenth to be well educated. For DuBois, no less than Locke, insisted that an education that allowed Blacks to achieve cultural freedom and autonomy would be an education that exposed the selected Black youth to the higher cultural values – the arts, music, drama, poetry, and history, aimed at the development of labouring skills. Alain Locke, no less than W.E.B DuBois, focused on Blacks cultural contributions to America. Hence, the importance of educating the Black elite, who would serve as Socratic midwives in such creative efforts. (Washington, p 22 ff.)

Significant social transformations occurred, according to Locke, through the effort of what he called the black elite – the talented, well educated, cultured class of Blacks that distinguished itself from the Black masses through the former’s contributions to the development of art and culture. The black elite took initiative in the realm of human affairs. It was concerned with helping to shape, among other things, public policy. Booker T. Washington, Alain Locke, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Bethune, Zora Hurston, Roland Hayes, Paul Robeson, Countee Cullen, Ida B. Wells, Langston Huges, Marian Anderson, James Weldon Johnson – these were among the Black elite during Locke’s time.

It was their artistic and political activities to the civil rights movements of the 1960s that advanced the social – political status of Black Americans, and induced the country to make a more serious commitment to the principle of equality. Indeed, members of the Black elite inspired Africans on the continent of Africa in the 1950s and early 1960s as they sought to rid themselves of European colonial rule. In a word, the American Black elite, especially through the effort of W.E.B. DuBoi’s Pan – African movement, was instrumental in helping to dissolve the closed societies on the continent of Africa, societies nurtured and sustained by colonialism. (Washington, p 34)

In his speech, “The Training of Negroes for Social Power,” Dr. DuBois set forth clearly and fully his views at the time of the type of education he felt was essential for his people.

“…The Negro problem, it has often been said, is largely a problem of ignorance – not simply of illiteracy, but a deeper ignorance of the world and its ways, of the thought and experience of men; an ignorance of self and the possibilities of human souls. This can be gotten rid of only by training; and primarily such training must take the form of that sort of social leadership which we call education. … The very first step towards settlement of the Negro problem is the spread of intelligence.” (Foner, p 132 ff)


W.E.B. DuBois emphasized that art must have a function. It is not the beauty which is important. In his magazine “The Crisis” he wrote: “We want Negro writers to produce beautiful things but we stress the things rather than the beauty. It is Life and Truth that are important and Beauty comes to make their importance visible and tolerable.”

Locke suggested that fellow artists of the Harlem Renaissance always strive for art and avoid propaganda. Unfortunately, however, he felt that there have been very few “purely artistic publications”, as most of their expressions were included in the “avowed organs of social movements and organized social programs.” He felt that there must be discussion of social problems, but propaganda is too one-sided to serve that function, and there must be some means of bringing all views to the table. However, he never claimed that art can serve this function, and merely hypothesized such a forum of ideas. (Cabrera, J.)

DuBois doubted if one could really have a disembodied art or beauty ; but Locke was not seeking for the Negro writer a disembodied beauty. He expected “tangible” results from the Negro knowing himself through his folk cultural experiences, particulary given the Negro’s special circumstances as an American citizen within the wider American cultural tradition. (Linnemann, R.J. p 92)

I think it is important to mention that W.E.B. DuBois was for propaganda but he didn’t totally reject art as long as art has a message.

DuBois had a strong sense of race pride and saw great value in drawing upon the racial heritage. He was an early advocate of the use of black folk music for classical American music tradition. Though he felt that art and propaganda could not be separated, he took the middle – class position that characterization of black life should project a proper image of the Negro. (Linnemann, R.J. p 78)

The question “Who was right?” is difficult to answer. A. Locke saw the beauty of art but in my opinion every kind of art has a message and is therefore more or less propaganda. One cannot separate the terms. Artist are just able to influence the kind of propaganda when they create provocative works but it is not possible to produce art just for arts sake.


Bracey, John H. ed.: African American Mosaic, Volume Two – From 1865 To The Present. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2004.

Locke, Alain: “Art or Propaganda?” in Voices from the Harlem Renaissance, ed. Nathan Irvin Huggins. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.

DuBois, W.E.B.: “The Negro Mind Reaches Out (excerpts)” The New Negro, An Interpretation. New York: Albert and Charles Boni, 1925, p. 385.

Foner, Philip Sheldon : W.E.B. Du Bois speaks – speeches and addresses
1890-1919. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970.

Linnemann, Russell J., ed. Alain Locke: Reflections on a modern Renaissance man. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.

Locke,A. “The Legacy of the Ancestral Arts,” in The New Negro: An Interpretation, ed. Alain Locke New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1968 (1925).

Marable, Manning: W.E.B.DuBois, Black Radical Democrat. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986.

Ploski, Harry A. ed. The Negro Almanac : a reference work on the Afro-American.

Detroit: Gale Research, 1983.

Washington, Johnny: Alain Locke and philosophy : a quest for cultural pluralism. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.

Weinberg, Meyer ed.: W.E.B. DuBois: A Reader. New York: Harper & Row, 1970.

Electronic Sources

Cabrera, Jennifer. Art or Propaganda? 10 December 1999.< http://www.en. utexas. edu/


Moon, Henry Lee: History of the Crisis. November 1970. The Crisis Magazine Online 10.03.05

Powell, Richard:

, 08.03.05

Thompson, Audrey: For: Anti racist education (p 1 – 38) 25.02.2005. University of Utah.

< http://bama.ua.edu/~cdi/thompson.pdf, S.18 >

Thompson, Audrey : Anti-Racist Pedagogy : Art or Propaganda? 27.02.2005. University of Utah

William H. Johnson Feb.16, 2000 25.02.05.

Essay Topics:

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email. Please, specify your valid email address

We can't stand spam as much as you do No, thanks. I prefer suffering on my own