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The Calvin Coolidge Senior High School Concert Choir performs at the White House Salute to America's Authors: Harlem Renaissance event in the East Room March 13, 2002. White House photo by Susan Sterner.

White House Symposium on the Harlem Renaissance

"I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

--Langston Hughes (1925)

The second in the White House Salute to America's Authors series, the Symposium on the Harlem Renaissance celebrated the diverse writers of this revolutionary time. The keynote address was delivered by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Levering Lewis. Following his address were two panel discussions.

The first panel focused on the historical and literary importance of the era and included Langston Hughes biographer Arnold Rampersad of Stanford University; Cheryl Wall, chair of the department of English at Rutgers; and Thadious Davis, the Gertrude Conaway Professor in the department of English at Vanderbilt University.

The second panel focused on the literary legacy of these early 20th Century authors and artists, with discussions about their place in contemporary fiction. Participants in the discussion, moderated by Marie Arana, book editor for The Washington Post, were contemporary African-American authors James McBride, Walter Dean Myers, and Colson Whitehead.

The Symposium also included period music performed by the Calvin Coolidge Senior High School Concert Choir, as well as photographs and significant documents from the Harlem Renaissance era provided by the Library of Congress.

For more information about the art, literature and legacy of the Harlem Renaissance; please visit:

Library of Congress, America's Library: Meet Amazing Americans, Langston Hughes

PBS Online forum: The Harlem Renaissance

New York Public Library: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at White House Literary Symposiums


White House Salute to American Authors Series
National Book Festival
Texas Book Festival
Laura Bush: Librarian and Teacher
Resources: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
White House Conference on School Libraries
White House Colloquium on Libraries, Museums, and Lifelong Learning
Highlights of Mrs. Bush's Library Tours and Visits
Teaching Children to Use their Public Library
Laura Bush's Recommended Reading

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