Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance was undoubtedly a cultural and social-political movement for the African American race. The Renaissance was many things to people, but it is best described as a cultural movement in which the high level of black artistic cultural production, demanded and received recognition. Many African American writers, musicians, poets, and leaders were able to express their creativity in many ways in response to their social condition. Until the Harlem Renaissance, poetry and literature were dominated by the white people and were all about the white culture. One writer in particular, Langston Hughes, broke through those barriers that very few African-American artists had done before this period. Langston Hughes played a major role and was a tremendous influence on African-American culture throughout the United States during the era of the Harlem Renaissance. He has written many poems that were influenced during the Harlem Renaissance, Trumpet Player and Harlem. From my perspective these poems expressed his rhythmic style and his connection to the Harlem Renaissance.
In the 1920's and early 1930's, there was an African American cultural movement that took place in the neighborhood of Harlem, New York. It is variously known as the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Literary Renaissance, or the New Negro Movement. This movement developed at the end of World War I in 1918, blossomed in the mid to late 1920's, and faded in the mid 1930's. There were several things that contributed to the rise of this time period, after segregation was made legal in the South, it made living conditions intolerable for African-Americans. “They were powerless before the law and less than human in the eyes of many whites” (Harlem Renaissance 954). This caused a great migration to the North which seemed absolutely necessary for African-Americans. There was an industrial explosion occurring in the North and it was creating a demand for labor. Many settled in northern cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, but New York was the destination for most. This migration to the North was a huge breakthrough for African-Americans and was the beginning of the cultural movement, the Harlem Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance was also considered as a literary movement led by the African-Americans. It was a time of African-American creativity in literature, music, dance, and art. This movement created amazing opportunities for African-Americans, they were able to pursue their hopes and dreams without being discriminated against. They persevered and finally received what they hoped and dreamed of from white society. African-Americans received better education, more employment opportunities, and were more acknowledged in the performing arts. “African Americans worked not only with a new sense of confidence and purpose but also with a sense of achievement never before experienced by so many black artists in the long, troubled history of the peoples of African descent in North America” (Harlem Renaissance 953). During this time the black culture was becoming more popular and accepted by non-blacks. The Harlem Renaissance was important to African-Americans because it was the first major step towards equality.
Many African-Americans began to write during this time and began getting noticed for their writings. “Some common themes represented during the Harlem Renaissance were the influence of the experience of slavery and emerging African-American folk traditions on black identity, the effects of institutional racism, the dilemmas inherent in performing and writing for elite white audiences, and the question of how to convey the experience of modern black life in the urban North” (Wikipedia, Harlem Renaissance). In many of the writings that I have read from the Harlem Renaissance era, they truly depicted their struggles and experiences through their writings. There were numerous famous poets that...
Cited: Harlem Renaissance 1919-1940. Essay. African American Literature. Edited by: Gates, Louis Henry
and McKay, Nellie. New York, 2004. 953-962. Print.
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Miller, R. Baxter. The Art and Imagination of Langston Hughes. University Press of Kentucky, 2006
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