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The Harlem Renaissance

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     Cultural developments do reflect American society as much as government policies or maybe more. Much of the literature, art, and music emerging during the first half of the twentieth century came from African Americans, but people of all races and cultures were involved. Films also reflected society a lot during this time.
     The Harlem Renaissance was a movement that gave black people a cultural uniqueness though literature and art. Most of the literature focused on realistically portraying black life, life in the ghetto, and other black issues. Langston Hughes was one of the major black writers to emerge from this movement. Hughes was a great writer with much diversity in his types of writings. He wrote plays, novels, poems, essays, short stories, and much more. Most of his writings were of the realities of black life, racism, ghetto and slum life, no jobs for black man and much more. Painters used improvisational style of art. Many of the painters used African subjects and designs in their paintings, such as Palmer Hayden. American society is reflected greatly in all the forms of art in the Harlem renaissance.
     Also emerging at the same time as the renaissance was a new music form called jazz. Jazz groups usually were made up of several trumpets, saxophones, some string instruments, piano, and drums. At this time whites were very interested in the exoticness of the black race, and jazz was a new exotic form of music that many whites liked. It was different then most other music of the time because of its fast paced rhythm, and swinging beat. Jazz reflects society by adding to the growing cultural uniqueness of black people emerging. It was another exotic form of art that made many people enjoyed. Louis Armstrong and Joe "King" Oliver were among the most famous to emerge from this style of music.
Another art movement that reflected society from 1908 though the early 1920’s, though briefly touched on in class, was Ashcan School of Arts. They painted in the impressionistic form. Painters like Robert Henri, Arthur B. Davies, and painted on the realities of urban life. Paintings were usually of the slums and ghettos, or portraying some form of poverty of the city life. This form of art was based on reflecting societies poverty and urban life by putting them into paintings, and making something beautiful out of something ugly. It showed middle and upper class people what life actually was like for people in the slums.
John Steinbeck was an author emerging in the 1930’s. His novels usually reflected society through the troubles and problems of the working class. He wrote famous novels such as Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. In The Grapes of Wrath, is about a family traveling to California, and becoming migrant laborers. The book reflects on the homelessness in American society, and the struggle people had to keep work and support families.

I think the impact of World War I and II both hindered political and social justice in some ways, and enhanced it in others.
The wars enhanced political and social justice for women quite a bit. People campaigning for women’s suffrage became devoted patriots and organizers of women in support of the war effort. Some women served in Europe in World War I nursing wounded, providing food and other supplies, as telephone operators, entertaining troops, and as journalists. Women's contributions to the war effort enhanced their demands for the suffrage, and President Woodrow Wilson was forced to support them. The Nineteenth Amendment became law in 1920, and gave women the right to vote. This enhanced women’s equality and is an enhancement in women’s social and political justice.
Women are now also allowed to join the military. They don’t have to just serve as nurses now; they can do all kinds of jobs, same as the men. They are now becoming pilots, mechanics, and engineers, operate machinery, and other jobs that are usually done by males. This is more enhancement to women’s equality politically and socially.
The Sedition Act prohibited assembly’s that oppose government actions and made it illegal for anyone to “print, speak, or publish any false, horrendous, and hateful articles against the government,” or any of it’s programs. This hindered political justice by restricting the rights of American citizens. First they tell you that you have freedom to say or write whatever you please, freedom of speech. Then they come back and tell you, “yeah you can say what you want, as long as it isn’t bad about us.” Well that isn’t freedom of speech then, so they hindered, or took away from the political and social justice of what there once was on freedom of speech.
The Espionage act was passed in 1917 and made it illegal to interfere with recruiting troops or to tell other country’s information dealing with national defense. It also made it illegal to resist the draft, or refuse to perform military duty.
     

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