Allyson Hobbs at The Nation:
After graduation, Thurman settled in Harlem in the 1920s and became a leading (and legendary) figure in the Harlem Renaissance—part of the “niggerati,” as Zora Neale Hurston famously called this influential group of intellectuals and artists. Working with A. Philip Randolph, Thurman became an editor at The Messenger, a political and literary journal, and in 1926 he co-founded, with Hurston, Hughes, Aaron Douglas, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Bruce Nugent, a bold and innovative publication called Fire!!, which featured the work of younger artists but was disliked by the black middle class because of its candid presentation of black life. In 1929, Thurman collaborated with the white playwright William Jourdan Rapp to write and produce Harlem, which ran for 93 performances and became “the first successful play written entirely or in part by a Negro to appear on Broadway.” Thurman believed that African Americans could overcome racial barriers, but he experienced countless incidents of racism during his short life.