Harlem Renaissance

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Harlem Renaissance

What is a renaissance? A renaissance is a movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity. There was a famous renaissance in Europe during the transition from medieval times to modern times that is still taught today. There was, also, a not so well known renaissance that occurred in the United States from the 1920’s to the 1930’s in Manhattan. This renaissance was called “The New Negro Movement”, but was later called the Harlem Renaissance. During this time, there was an unprecedented outburst of creative activity among African-Americans that occurred in all fields of art. The renaissance started off as a series of literary discussions in lower Manhattan (Greenwich Village) and upper Manhattan (Harlem). Many African-Americans had a considerable impact on modern day arts during this renaissance.
Alain LeRoy Locke was considered the leader and chief interpreter of the Harlem Renaissance. His efforts to debunk race-based myths of the inherent intellectual, social, and spiritual inferiority of African-Americans that emerged in the post Reconstruction era are thought to be some of his greatest accomplishments. He sought to destroy commonly held myths through his writings and by identifying, selecting and promoting a talented group of well-educated African-Americans to become leaders and role models in their communities. To achieve greater understanding and harmony between the two races, Locke declared that "...there is a growing realization that in social effort the cooperative basis must supplant long distance philanthropy." This meant he felt that Negro people would have to develop self-sufficiency and no longer rely on seemingly altruistic efforts of other people.
Langston Hughes was one of the poets who published many works of literature during this time. He acquired a medal give by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People known as the Spingarn Medal in 1960. With this medal, he joined the ranks of famous African-Americans who spoke out or showed that racism was wrong such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, and George Washington Carver.
Another person who played a role in the Harlem Renaissance was Countee Cullen. At New York University his works attracted critical attention. His first collection of poems, COLOR (1925), was published before he finished college. Countee was a part of the fresh generation of new writers that came out during the renaissance. In 1927, Countee published two more volumes of verse - Copper Sun and The Ballad of the Brown Girl - and edited an anthology of Negro poetry called Caroling Dusk.
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