Harlem

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Harlem

By | April 2013
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The Harlem Renaissance remains one of the most significant artistic movements in American history, far surpassing its original importance to one specific minority. The renaissance served to create a consciousness of identity for African-Americans, while also forcing white American to confront the importance of an ethnic group too long considered inferior. The Harlem Renaissance is best remembered today as an explosion of creativity bursting from the talented minds of African-Americans in the 1920s, although in reality it was the locus for the radicalization and politicization of a disenfranchised populace as much as it was an artistic movement. Although generally considered an African-American literary movement, the Harlem Renaissance extended far beyond books and poetry to embrace art, dance, and music. The creative minds behind the Harlem Renaissance used artistic expression to make a significant impact on all aspects of society, while also endowing African-American with their first sense of identity not defined by slavery. During the early 20th century, three-quarters of a million African-Americans escaped the economic depravation of the South and migrated northward to urban cities in a desperate attempt to find good jobs and economic security and also searching for a more racially tolerant society. 175,000 of these African-Americans settled in New York City (Wintz 15). To attach a stark beginning to the Harlem Renaissance by singling out one particular text is an exercise in futility and bound to spur debate. Black writers had been published since the 19th century, but the differentiation that makes the Harlem Renaissance easily definable as a turning point was the breadth of topics that black writers covered. The true origins of the Renaissance lay not in any single work that ignited a revolution, but in the various and multiple congregations of shared interests by those desiring to propagate the stunning burst of creativity through the publication of...