The Racial Mountain
What is the Harlem Renaissance? The Harlem Renaissance was a movement that was prompted by the advocacy of racial equality that began in the early 1920s and lasted into the 1930s. Also known as the “New Negro Movement”, the Renaissance was the development of African American culture, and was the most influential movement in African American literary history, cultural literature, and music, theatrical and visual arts. Participants such as Zora Neal Hurston, W.E.B. DuBoise, and Langston Hughes, among others sought to reconceptualize “the Negro” apart from the white stereotypes that had influenced African-American’s relationship to their heritage and to each other. In this paper we will discuss the contributions Langston Hughes made to the movement and his thought process and reasoning for doing so.
Langston Hughes was an African-American poet and writer whose literary works became well known during the era of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes’ father was a lawyer who had moved to Mexico not long after he was born to escape the racism in America leaving Hughes to be raised by his mother, a schoolteacher, and his grandmother. After graduating high school he attended a year of college at Columbia University but would later return to Lincoln University where he would complete his college education. He wrote many different works of literature such as The New Negro and The Weary Blues but it was his novel Not Without Laughter that would solidify his reputation in the Negro community. By the late 1930s he had a hand in drama production and screenwriting, and had started writing his own autobiography.
His literary works helped shape American literature and politics, like others active in the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes had a strong sense of racial pride and “…urged African American artists to embrace black popular culture” (Baym 806). “His mother spent most of his childhood searching for employment, so Hughes...
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