By Leonard Harris
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Extra resources for Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher
These were, needless to say, revolving around issues of race, or even if not about such issues directly, the strategy of mediation often derived from a racial consciousness. This note talks about the question of humor: Laughter was barred in our house—and the smile substituted not in a sour but in a debonair way—This was the antidote of being Negro—the distinguished protest of the 2nd & 3rd generation away from slavery. My father & mother could laugh—but rarely did—Father took it out in whistling.
At term’s end Locke was able to tell his mother that the valedictorian of Central High’s class of 1903 had gotten three A’s his first term and Locke had garnered four. Meanwhile he was socializing with Dickerman and the circle around Blumfield. Blumfield invited Locke in February 1905 to a party honoring the novelist Israel Zangwill—who coined the term “melting pot”—and, though Zangwill was prevented from coming, Locke enjoyed the ethnic dancing and costumes. Dickerman, an excellent student and aspiring poet, became a fairly constant companion, and in fact he and Locke sustained a correspondence for almost four decades after graduation.
He also absorbed from Josiah Royce an intensified interest in value theory. ” 4 The intellectual atmosphere at Harvard in 1904 was formed by an unstable mix of Protestant moral perfectionism and late Romantic estheticism, held together by a genteel Anglophilia. The Protestantism was reflected in the concern with value theory, where it was understood that one was to hold 32 Chapter Two central values very firmly, and—if possible—with some rational justification. The estheticism was reflected in the pursuit of an idealism that went beyond (often without really challenging) the materialist bounty of America’s propertied class.
Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris