The Harlem Renaissance

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The Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was a period of cultural explosion. It began in the wake of World War One, flourished until the Great Depression, peaking in Nineteen twenty-eight a year before the beginning of the Depression. The community of Harlem was composed of mainly Negroes (not all of the black population of Harlem was of African descent, so the term African-American would be falsely used in this case) and during this time period they were still considered inferior to the whites. For this reason and other events that took place during the Harlem Renaissance, which I will discuss later in this paper, I have chosen the Athens question, "What does it mean to be a member of a community?" The Harlem Renaissance was a time period during which the black culture of New York, primarily Harlem, was involved in a movement through which, using literature and intellect, they attempted to raise pride amongst themselves and attain equal status with those that oppressed them. Some of the best-known figures and key figures of this period were Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay and Jean Toomer. The Harlem Renaissance started as a literary and intellectual movement with a mission of both race propaganda and "pure" art. Their task was to identify and articulate a community consciousness rather than overthrow existing institutions. They represented the outsiders who wanted to be a part of the main stream. As for being a part of the community they were as far as the black community. However in the bigger picture, the black community was outside of the national community, which consisted of the white race. In the two square miles of Harlem life was good. It was the 'Roaring Twenties' and people were happy. The black community kept to themselves but the community that they made up was a tight knit and caring one. They were all about having fun, helping one another and having pride in themselves. In terms of the black community, being part of the community meant that all people were equal and that the things they said did and stood for were no less credit worthy because of their skin color. In the larger national community the black culture fought to be part of and not subservient to the white community and the Harlem Renaissance was a way of trying to get into the mainstream.

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