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Cultural Influence: The Themes Of The Harlem Renaissance

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The Harlem Renaissance was an era of cultural expression. It was an eruption of literature, music, and art that was created and inspired by African Americans. The movement was centered in Harlem, New York City. It was a part of a worldwide revolution that was sparked by World War I. The Harlem Renaissance brought about a debate over racial identity and the future of black Americans following a growth in the African American population in Northern cities during and after the war. Minstrel shows, well-known for depicting blacks in a stereotypically comical way (Bodenner), shaped the way blacks were seen in popular culture. Even when showing blacks in a sympathetic way, the shows still portrayed them as weak and submissive. For black writers,…show more content…
It was a cultural phenomenon, there was new music and nightlife, and it was the beginning of the Jazz Age. Because of its central location, in New York City, it allowed close interaction between artists and consumers of different races. Harlem was the “epicenter of most American culture enterprises” (Bodenner). The housing boom in the early 1900s allowed many lower income blacks to move into a formerly wealthy, white neighborhood. Many LGBT artists and patrons, who were alienated from mainstream society, were able to form a tight-knit group in Harlem. It was a good atmosphere for creativity. However, it also sparked a debate over how Renaissance artists should portray themselves and the members of their…show more content…
Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Marcus Garvey each had a different perspective on how to solve the “negro problem”. W.E.B. DuBois was a black intellectual and civil rights leader in the 1900s who helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He represented the highly educated, black, urban professionals at the turn of the 20th century, which he referred to as The “Talented Tenth” (Bodenner).
“The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races”
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