Harlem Sweeties (African American Flappers, 1920's)

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    African American flappers taking in a college football game, Washington, DC. Circa 1920's. Addison Scurlock Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

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    As I study the different skin hues of the young Black women depicted in this photograph, I'm reminded of a poem by Langston Hughes named Harlem Sweeties. It goes something like this:

    Have you dug the spill
    Of Sugar Hill?
    Cast your gims
    On this sepia thrill:
    Brown sugar lassie,
    Caramel treat,
    Honey-gold baby
    Sweet enough to eat.
    Peach-skinned girlie,
    Coffee and cream,
    Chocolate darling
    Out of a dream.
    Walnut tinted
    Or cocoa brown,
    Pomegranate-lipped
    Pride of the town.
    Rich cream-colored
    To plum-tinted black,
    Feminine sweetness
    In Harlem no lack.
    Glow of the quince
    To blush of the rose.
    Persimmon bronze
    To cinnamon toes.
    Blackberry cordial,
    Virginia Dare wine
    All those sweet colors
    Flavor Harlem of mine!
    Walnut or cocoa,
    Let me repeat:
    Caramel, brown sugar,
    A chocolate treat.
    Molasses taffy,
    Coffee and cream,
    Licorice, clove, cinnamon
    To a honey-brown dream.
    Ginger, wine-gold,
    Persimmon, blackberry,
    All through the spectrum
    Harlem girls vary
    So if you want to know beauty
    Rainbow-sweet thrill,
    Stroll down luscious,
    Delicious, fine Sugar Hill.

    Harlem Sweeties from Collected Poems. Copyright, © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes.

    Vintage African American photography courtesy of Black History Album.

    Follow Us On Twitter @blackhistoryalb

    View 15 more comments

    1. William Self 65 months ago | reply

      Classic piece of history captured here! Love it!

    2. javiermoon 61 months ago | reply

      Beautiful!!!

    3. Kingkongphoto & www.celebrity-photos.com 60 months ago | reply

      Pretty great photo....Put on a Nina Simone...record...
      and You are There !

    4. decembre 60 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Portrait★Faces, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

      --
      Seen in the group"Historic and Old Photos" (?)

    5. silverbells56 59 months ago | reply

      I wish I was one of them!

    6. Chocolate Skin. Curly Hair. 57 months ago | reply

      great... u have the best photostream on flickr that i have ever seen.

      flipping through your photos feels more like an experience.
      as if im rediscovering america.

      love it. thanks so much!

    7. iwillglo 57 months ago | reply

      classic...picture and poem

    8. Jen's Photography 52 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called ***This should be a Postcard!***, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    9. arealgem 51 months ago | reply

      this is so nice

    10. ThePalindromeProject [deleted] 49 months ago | reply

      really really well done! i like the focus.

    11. Nastassia Davis [www.nastassiadavis.com] 47 months ago | reply

      Love, love, love this. Classic time period. Beautiful women!

    12. G. MATHIEU des PLANTEURS 47 months ago | reply

      Bonjour, je suis un administrateur du groupe 30's "ART DECO period", et nous aimerions beaucoup que vous ajoutiez votre photo à notre groupe.

    13. chrisrgreen2008 46 months ago | reply

      Cool, different take on a picture from the twenties.

    14. adoredvintage 39 months ago | reply

      So lovely ♥ & featured here: adore-vintage.blogspot.com

    15. KBN2009 31 months ago | reply

      Amazing!! I love it!!

    16. mizellbaby 31 months ago | reply

      Man its good too see beautiful picture from that era of black woman!

    17. mutavu 26 months ago | reply

      Stunning picture AMAZING poem!

    18. Black History Album 26 months ago | reply

      Thanks. Every time I revisit this photo, my eyes are always drawn to the 3rd woman from the right for some reason. Must be the hat :-) Would love to see her full length.

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