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Episode 17

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 17: Prohibition and the Harlem Renaissance

Although we often think of the Civil Rights movement as primarily taking place post-World War II—and many of the major pieces of legislation, the March on Washington, and the activity surrounding the dismantling of Jim Crow, the Montgomery Bus Boycott…

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The following works were used in this podcast:

Blum, Deborah. The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. Reprint Edition. Penguin Books, 2011.

Foundation, Poetry. “An Introduction to the Harlem Renaissance.” Text/html. Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, October 15, 2020. Https://

———. “Langston Hughes.” Text/html. Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, October 15, 2020. Https://

“Langston Hughes Biography – Life, Children, Parents, Name, Story, History, School, Mother, Book, Information, Born, College.” Accessed October 16, 2020.

Lilleslåtten, Mari. “Everyone loving their jazz was not enough, the Harlem Renaissance wanted to change the perception of black people,” April 20, 2020.

Miller, Jason. “Langston Hughes’ Hidden Influence on MLK.” The Conversation, 2018.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Prohibition | Definition, History, Eighteenth Amendment, & Repeal.” Accessed October 16, 2020.

Published inPodcasts


  1. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    In Episode 17 of the podcast, Dr. Bezio discusses the development of the Civil Rights movement in the 19th and into the 20th century and how the Temperance Movement played a large role in the emergence of the Harlem Renaissance. How was the Harlem Renaissance perceived by Americans during that period? Did Langston Hughes face harsh opposition to his work and did he receive similar threats that Martin Luther King was affected by?

  2. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    In podcast 17, Dr. Bezio discusses prohibition and the Harlem Renaissance. One thing that stood out to me was the relationship between Langston Hughes and Martin Luther King. King never called Hughes by his name, because he was thought of as a possible communist. While I can understand King didn’t want to be associated with this, I’m wondering: do you think Hughes influenced King in ways that King never discussed?

  3. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    One of the things Podcast 17 discusses is the Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes, Civil Rights efforts that began much before the 60s, when King was the figurehead. The blacks in the country were beginning to influence whites with their culture, and were being heard and even appreciated in some ways, although still very much pushed into their own group. It’s obvious that Langston Hughes has been very influential since his life, but were people during his prime, especially whites, as responsive to his work? Did they love and respect him, and were they as influenced as we are now after his death?

  4. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    In this podcast, we learned a lot about the influence of art, and specifically black artists, on American life, and the effects federal policy can have on the general public. With marijuana today being federally illegal, and being the cause of a higher percentage of African Americans in prison, did the prohibition movement and the 18th movement incarcerate more African Americans than other races during the 1920s through the early 1930s? Was this because of a racist or biased police and regulation force, economic and societal pressure for blacks to be involved in illegal practices like working at or for speakeasies, or a combination of many variables?

  5. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    In Podcast 17, Dr. Bezio discusses the very beginning of the civil rights movement and the start of the Harlem Renaissance and how the two tie together. The Great Migration of Blacks to the North allowed for more job opportunities and freedom that was not guaranteed in the South. Because this overlapped with prohibition, many people started speakeasies as underground bars where people can buy alcohol. In addition, many black musicians were employed in these bars because white people were too nervous to work there illegally. I find it very neat that during a time like the prohibition, black people in America were able to start a movement and spread their culture through jazz. I wonder what other good has come from bad in history? Have there been other instances of the spreading/sharing of culture that stemmed from laws prohibiting certain things?

  6. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    In this podcast, Dr. Bexio discusses the influence that art forms within the Harlem Renaissance had on the Civil Rights Movement. Specifically, how Langston Hughes impacted Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream Speech”. It is interesting to hear the impacts music and poetry have on social movements because history does not discuss them, as much. History mainly focuses on the prominent and obvious leaders within the social movements, not the “invisible leaders” within them. I am curious to know if there were any other black musicians that had an influence on the Civil Rights Movement and could these musicians had the same success without the prohibition causing the formation of underground bars where they could produce and perform music?

  7. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    Podcast 17 discussed the Great Migration and Harlem Renaissance as well as key features of this time period. The information about King never mentioning Hughes by name made me wonder if Hughes was more accepted or opposed during these times. It’s easier to look back and see all the contributions that he made to black artists, but at the time I’m sure there was a lot of opposition to his ideas. I’m also wondering how prohibition may have influenced the growth of black artists and culture? During the 1920’s I think of soul music in bars and clubs so I’m curious if prohibition prevented black artists from making music.

  8. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    During the Prohibition Era, were alcohol laws enforced disproportionately in a similar fashion to marijuana laws today? More specifically, were there unexplainable disparities between black arrests and white arrests for alcohol-related crimes?

  9. William Coben William Coben

    My question after listening to this podcast is targeted towards black musicians and prohibition. How did Prohibition dismantle the success of black artists at the time? It would make sense that bars and alcohol consumption areas were full of live music and shows, so I am curious if black artists would have thrived even more should prohibition not have happened.

  10. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    I had two questions regarding this podcast. One, with the black community migrating North during the Harlem Renaissance and prohibition, what effect did this have on the South both socially and economically? Secondly, to what extent did the Jazz movement create a new, proud identity for the black community? Would it be fair to say that this was one fo the first things the black community was able to call their own in the United States?

  11. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    In this Podcast Dr. Bezio discusses the Harlem renaissance and prohibition. This podcast raised many questions for me. Why do most people overlook civil rights in the 1920’s? Was the government held responsible in anyway for putting toxic wood alcohol in drinks and killing thousands of people? I wonder in the way MLK never called Hughes by name to protect the movement was he and other leaders influenced by other people they never discuss because of fear of how it will be perceived?

  12. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    Podcast 17 covers the Harlem Renaissance and the influence of Langston Hughes. The podcast describes how the civil rights movement began before the Civil War, long before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. In this podcast, we learned about the man whose words define that dream, Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes is one of the most prolific American authors of the 20th century, and continues to inspire people to this day. He was one many other Black artists to come out of the Harlem Renaissance, including Louis Armstrong and W.E.B. DuBois. I can’t say that I didn’t learn about Langston Hughes in school, but I did not learn about the origins of Jazz, especially in terms of Speakeasies and Prohibition. Why are the origins of the Harlem Renaissance, and the early civil rights movement in general, so glossed over in schools?

  13. William Clifton William Clifton

    In this Podcast, Bezio talks about the misconceptions of prohibition. Like in most of the podcast we have listened to thus far, Bezio makes it a point to address the fallacies and misunderstandings of specific events in American history. We have talked about the misconceptions of the Civil Rights Movement, WWII, etc. The one common theme in all of the podcasts thus far is that none of us truly understood the reality of our own history. My question is whether or not it is our own doing that causes us to be misinformed. Or whether or not there is some one or some thing that is driving the narratives of our nations history. A narrative that doesn’t point to truth. A narrative that disables Americans from realizing the gravity of our past.

  14. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I found Dr. Bezio’s podcast on Prohibition and the Harlem Renaissance to be very interesting. The podcast also talked about Langston Hughes and how he was and still is to this day a very influential person. More specifically, I had no idea that Martin Luther King was influenced by him and indirectly talked about him in a speech. We also learned about the Era of Prohibition where alcohol was illegal, crime and political corruption were frequent. What was the result of Prohibition on the American economy?

  15. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    In podcast 17, Dr. Bezio talks about prohibition and the Harlem Renaissance. I did not realize the impact that prohibition had on the civil rights movement. I knew the Harlem Renaissance was throughout the 20s when prohibition was happening, but I never connected the two. The most interesting part of the podcast for me was how speakeasies created Jazz popularity. I knew that Jazz was played at these speakeasies, but I never understood why this was the case. The podcast clarifies that white musicians were worried about the potential punishments for playing at these illegal clubs. Since black musicians needed employment, they signed up to play for the speakeasies. My question that I was wondering is, “If white musicians decided to play at these speakeasies, would Jazz have been as popular as it was?”

  16. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    Towards the end of today’s podcast, Dr. Bezio mentions how Langston Hughes was both criticized for his worked as well as praised for inspiring the next generation of poets. Today, rappers often face a similar balance of praise and criticism. How does the criticism faced by Hughes differ from the criticism hurled at modern rappers? What are the similarities in their experiences of criticism? Can the differences in the criticism tell us anything about the influence of African American culture in today’s mainstream?

  17. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    Discussing the prohibition period seems ridiculous due to fact that alcohol is such a normalized part of society. It makes me think about the modern discussions on the legalization of marijuana. Do you think that people in the future will see marijuana being illegal as ridiculous,the same way alcohol being illegal seems ridiculous now?

  18. Alexander Dimedio Alexander Dimedio

    Prohibition is widely known as a great failure, but is this the government’s fault? The podcast explains much of what the government did wrong when handling prohibition, but is there anything the government really could have done. So the main question I am asking is, could the prohibition movement ever worked, or is American culture too centered around alcohol?

  19. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    Do the results of prohibition-era dealing with people breaking the law to drink alcohol have anything to do with the idea that teenagers will do absolutely anything to consume alcohol. Rates of underage drinking, that are caught, in the United States, are much higher than in other countries. One other question did the prohibition era have anything to do with the idea that Americans are very good at binge drinking rather than leisurely drinking.

  20. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    In podcast episode 17, Dr. Bezio discusses the Harlem Renaissance and how this artistic explosion among the black community shaped society and influenced white people creating a voice for the black community. Hughes had a strong sense of racial pride making him more involved in civil rights and becoming a well-known author. You mentioned that he was cited by numerous white authors which of course contributed to making his work more prominent nowadays but I was wondering how was he perceived by the white community, especially elites, during those times?

  21. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    In Podcast 17 Dr. Bezio talks about the rise of Jazz music through speakeasies. And, how black artists were able to preform at these underground bars, because white artists wouldn’t. And, this led to the rise of Jazz music in America. However, I wonder how law enforcement reacted to the rise of speakeasies? Did they just turn a blind eye, or did they try to abolish speakeasies because of Prohibition?

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