Women of the Harlem Renaissance

Riverwalk Jazz Web Exclusive

Special Guest Carol Woods. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Anita Scott Coleman. Photo courtesy BlackPast.org

This week on Riverwalk Jazz, Broadway’s Carol Woods joins us to celebrate a largely unsung group of black women who were a driving force in the Harlem Renaissance.

Shoe Shine Parlor. Photo courtesy Anaheim Public Library

The Shining Parlor By Anita Scott Coleman

It was a drab street
A white man's street . . .
Jammed with automobiles
Streetcars and trucks;
Bee-hived with fruit vendors' stalls,
Real estate concerns, meat shops,
Dental clinics, and soft drink stands.
It was a drab street
A white man's street . . .
But it held the shining parlor—
A boot-black booth,
Commandeered by a black man,
Who spent much time smiling out
Upon the hub-bub of the thoroughfare.
Ever . . . serenely smiling . . .
With a brush and soiled rag in his hands.
Often . . . white patrons wait for
Their boots to be "shined,"
Wondering the while
At the wonder--
Of the black man's smile.

Born in Mexico, Anita Scott Coleman was never a resident of Harlem, but her work reflects the ideals of the emerging 'Black Renaissance.'