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The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance brought about many
great changes. It was a time for expressing the African-American
culture. Many famous people began their writing or gained their recognition
during this time. The Harlem Renaissance took place during the 1920ís
and 1930ís. Many things came about during the Harlem Renaissance;
things such as jazz and blues, poetry, dance, and musical theater.
The African-American way of life became the "thing." Many white people
came to discover this newest art, dancing, music, and literature.
The Great Migration of African-American people from the rural South to
the North, and many into Harlem was the cause of this phenomenon.
Harlem was originally a Dutch settlement. Harlem became one of the
largest African- American communities in the United States, and during
the Harlem Renaissance became a center for art and literature. Many
great writers came about during this time, one of which was Langston Hughes.
Hughes was born in 1902 with the name James Langston Hughes, and died in
1967. He lived most of his adult life in Harlem. He grew up
without a stable family environment. His father moved to Mexico,
and he never really saw much of him. Hughes was often referred to
as "Harlemís poet" (Haskins 174). Hughes had and still has a great
influence on poetry.
Hughes poetry was a reflection of the
African-American culture and Harlem. He wrote many poems, and continued
to write even after the Harlem Renaissance. He loved Harlem that
was his home. He watched it decline with the onset of the Great Depression.
He saw Harlem turn into a place to be feared by many. It was a sad
and dangerous place to be, after the depression. Hughes described
the impact of the Great Depression upon African-Americans, "The depression
brought everyone down a peg or two. And the Negro had but a few pegs
to fall" (Haskins 174). Langston Hughes valued the teaching of children.
Many of his poems are childrenís poems. He often traveled to schools
and read his poetry. His first published works were in a childrenís
magazine during the 1920ís. He published a book of ABCís called The
Sweet and Sour Animal Book. He wanted to inspire the youth, and make
them feel good about themselves. He did not only write poetry, but
that is what he is famous for. Much of his poetry talks of the hardships,
poverty, inequality, etc. of the African-American people. His work
has inspired many people, and is read by many students and scholars.
He is a great positive role model. I personally love his poetry.
It describes these problems within our society that still have yet to be
resolved. It opens the readerís eyes to the many disadvantages that many
people have suffered through and are still trying to overcome.
Hughes writes about how the African-American
people have been all over the world. In "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"
he talks about them bathing in the Euphrates, building huts by the Congo,
and singing of the Mississippi. I think that this poem is showing
how these people are everywhere. That in America we act as if they
are subordinate, but he is saying to the white people, look at all my race
has accomplished. "We" built the pyramids, and we have been around
as long as these rivers. This is a positive poem. It does not
talk directly about racism nor puts down the white race for being prejudiced
(Lauter 1612-13). In the poem, "I, Too" he describes how he is also part
of what America is. Even if he is sent to eat in the kitchen, he
is as much a part as anyone else. One day he will not be made to
hide and eat in the kitchen. One day people will see that African-Americans
are beautiful people, and will be ashamed of how they were treated.
This poem gives hope to the black community. It makes them yearn
for the day when equality will come and racism will end. Too bad
that the day has still not yet come in this century (Lauter 1618).
In his poem, "Harlem" this is addressed. He wonders what happens
to dreams that are deferred. How long must one still dream of something
that seems like it will never come. The African-American people have
been waiting to be seen as equal for many years, yet it still seems so
out of reach. His poetry seems to address this over and over again
(Lauter 1619). In "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," a young
Negro poet said, "I want to be a poet-not a Negro poet" (Lauter 1629).
It also describes how many
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Harlem Renaissance, American literature, Literature, African-American literature, Guggenheim Fellows, African-American culture, Harlem, Langston Hughes, Note on Commercial Theatre, Claude McKay
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