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02.03.2017

The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was a very special episode in the history of American culture and African-American culture in particular. It happened during the 1920s and 1930s and that was the time, when many notable Afro-Americans gained popularity and recognition. A lot of things that we like and appreciate in the modern day world appeared in that period: dance, poetry, musical theater, blues and jazz. The incredible way of life of African-Americans hit the spotlight and many white people, who previously had no idea about these forms of art, started discovering it.

One of the main reasons for the Harlem Renaissance was the migration of African-Americans from the south of the USA to the north. Many of them moved to Harlem. It’s interesting that initially Harlem was a Dutch settlement, but in the beginning of the 20th century it grew into one of the biggest communities of African-American people in the United States of America and the center of their literature and art. A lot of great writers revealed their talent to the world during The Harlem Renaissance. One of them was Langston Hughes, who lived most of his life in Harlem and was referred to as “Harlem’s poet”. His creative work was dedicated to the life of African-American people around the world. Through his poetry, he expressed the idea that black people had been around for a very long time, they had built the pyramids, had bathed in ancient rivers and, therefore, had to be respected. He foresaw the future, where America would be free from racism and black people would be recognized as beautiful and smart, and would be no longer asked to eat in the kitchen. He said that the day would come and he would not be forced to eat in the kitchen or hide from anyone. It was a very actual outlook on the things, which corresponded with the moods of African-American population giving them hope for a better and brighter future. In another poem, which is called “Harlem”, he wonders how much time one should dream for the dream to come true if you’re dreaming about something that seems unreal (the dream of equality). The poetry of Langston Hughes addresses the issue of inequality over and over again. 

Another big thing, which came about during the Harlem Renaissance, was blues and jazz music. When white people started visiting Harlem to see what music Afro-Americans were listening to and how they were dancing, they were flabbergasted by what they saw and Harlem became a very popular place, where people were having a lot of fun. Just imagine, our favorite blues hits wouldn’t be possible without the Harlem Renaissance. We can still feel the influence of that music through the compositions of our favorite modern artists as blues is the condition of the soul, which is reflected through music.

Although the Harlem Renaissance was a great time for African- American people, it triggered conflicts between the poor and middle class blacks. The Harlem Renaissance did not remove the inequality, but at least it gave black people the recognition of what that they deserved.

 


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