The New Yorker’s Cover Art Pays Homage to Harlem’s Schomburg Center

Artist Kadir Nelson perfectly captured the Harlem Renaissance.

The New Yorker/Kadir Nelson
The New Yorker/Kadir Nelson

On Monday the New Yorker unveiled its cover for the Feb. 22 issue, which goes on sale Tuesday. The issue celebrates the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem and Black History Month.

The cover story follows the history of the center, which is the research branch of the New York Public Library. Located at 515 Malcolm X Blvd. (Lenox Avenue) between West 135th and 136th streets, it was named after Afro-Puerto Rican scholar Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. The center, which opened its doors in 1905, has become a mecca of learning when it comes to black culture.

Kadir Nelson, the artist behind the cover art, says he wanted to create “a stylistic montage as an homage to the great Harlem Renaissance painters: Aaron Douglas, William H. Johnson, Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Archibald Motley, and Palmer Hayden.”

Nelson also paid homage to people like the Nicholas Brothers, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston.