The Harlem Renaissance: An American Experience
Painter Aaron Douglas, the "father" of African Art, stated in 1925, "Let's bare our arms and plunge them deep through laughter, through pain, through sorrow, through hope, through disappointment, into the very depths of the souls of our people and drag forth material crude, rough, neglected. Then let's sing it, dance it, write it, paint it" ("Harlem Renaissance" 1, par. 4). These words of triumph and strife epitomize the state of living during the Harlem Renaissance in the United States. Liberation, cultural pride, and expression in the arts embodied this period in American history. Beginning at the end of World War I and continuing on until the brink of the Great Depression of the 1930's, feelings of both acceptance and segregation contrived discord between blacks and whites living among one another. Effecting black Americans as well as America in general, this movement had a profound impact on our country that to this day is apparent in everyday life. During the time that coined the term, "The Roaring 20's," hot nightclubs were filled with both blacks and whites, dancing and socializing to the latest blues and jazz tunes. This movement brought black Americans to a whole new realm of opportunity. Blacks began to make their "mark in politics, art, literature, music, science, the social sciences and every aspect of American life into which they could win their way" ("Harlem Renaissance" 2, par. 1). In the urbanized northern cities such as New York, Chicago, and Detroit, blacks had the chance to live without the constant fear of the KKK, lynching, or extreme poverty that engulfed the South. Also, because of overbuilt apartment houses, blacks could rent or buy new housing, with white neighbors, for the first time in history. With newly created industry jobs, blacks lived comfortably as members of the working class. The spirit and lifestyle of the black American was greatly changed by the Harlem Renaissance...
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