Significance of the Harlem Renaissance

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The Harlem Renaissance was a pivotal point in history. While it did not break down the racial barriers associated with Jim Crow laws, the attitudes toward race did change. Most importantly, black pride became paramount as African Americans sought to express themselves artistically through art and literature, in an effort to create an identity for themselves equal to that of the white Americans (Gates Jr. and McKay). The Harlem Renaissance was the period of time between the end of World War I and the middle 1930s depression. Also called the New Negro Renaissance, it was a period in history when talented African American writers produced volumes of literary works. This period was characterized by many important themes. The first theme was migration; many African Americans migrated to large cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Harlem. The Harlem Renaissance, the literary movement we are discussing was named so because Harlem became heavily populated with African Americans thus becoming the epicenter for this literary and artistic movement (Gates Jr. and McKay). Another theme of this period was he regeneration of black culture, folk traditions, and character. The prefix re in the word Renaissance means “over again” and the suffix naissance from the Latin root natus and/or nation, means “birth”. Put together, these words create meaning for the literary movement of this period. It alludes to a rebirth of the past, as well as an establishment of a collective African American literary movement that stimulated a new confidence and racial pride in the talented artists of this period (Gates Jr. and McKay). Scholars have defined three distinct phases of the Harlem Renaissance. The first phase was from 1917 to 1923; white bohemian writers... ... middle of paper ... ...writers such as Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Countee Cullen. The third group was defined as the younger generation female writers, and was comprised of writers such as Zora Neale Hurston and Anne Spencer (Bodenner). Works Cited Bodenner, Chris. “Harlem Renaissance: Issues and Contreversies in American History.” Infobase Publishing. N.p., 19 July 2006. Web. 6 Feb. 2014. <>. Gates, Jr., Henry Louis, and Jennifer Burton. Call and Response: Key Debates in African American Studies. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 2011. Print. Gates Jr., Henry Louis, and Nellie Y. McKay. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company , Inc. , 2004. Print. Lewis, David Levering. “The Intellectual Luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 7 (1995): 68-69. JSTOR. Web. 17 Feb 2014.
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