Folk Art In The Harlem Renaissance

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“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” - Marcus Garvey. The Harlem Renaissance was a period of time in which racial pride and culture were thrust away in favor of a more traditional style of art. However, during this time, racial pride was best expressed through folk art via the means of relatable structure, understandable word choice and everyday subject matter. Common poets of the time chose not to imitate the formal and restrictive style of the European influenced “high art” and instead believed in a more down-to-earth, conversational style of writing. In these choices, poets began to shape a new form of art called “folk art” that gave readers content inspired by daily life and no longer barred by the restraint of European art.

In the case of relatable structure, it allowed for ordinary people to connect the poems to their own lives. This is seen in the selection from Fine Clothes to the Jew; “Po’ Boy Blues” by Langston Hughes in which the author expresses that “When [he] was home de/ Sunshine seemed like gold”. This, again straying from the traditional, restrictive structure of high art in which authors are required to conform to grammatical and punctuational conventions. Also in this example, the author expresses racial pride by replicating his own natural way
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This word choice could be used in order to reach a greater audience through comprehensible writing style and phrasing. This graspable word choice is evident in the selection from James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones:”The Creation”, in which the author asserts that “This Great God,/ Like a mammy bending over her baby,/ Kneeled down in the dust”. In the usage of the word “mammy” the speaker alludes to the term used for a female African-American servant, providing for ease of understanding for the large bulk of his

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