The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance refers to a prolific period of unique works of African-American expression from about the end of World War I to the beginning of the Great Depression. Although it is most commonly associated with the literary works produced during those years, the Harlem Renaissance was much more than a literary movement; similarly, it was not simply a reaction against and criticism of racism. The Harlem Renaissance inspired, cultivated, and, most importantly, legitimated the very idea of an African-American cultural consciousness. Concerned with a wide range of issues and possessing different interpretations and solutions of these issues affecting the Black population, the writers, artists, performers and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance had one important commonality: "they dealt with Black life from a Black perspective."
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?"
In the introduction to The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader, David Levering Lewis states the Harlem Renaissance was not a cohesive movement, but a constructed and forced phenomenon that was “institutionally encouraged and directed by leaders of the national civil rights establishment for the paramount purpose of improving race relations.” (Lewis, xiii) However, after researching many influential artists, politicians, and orators of the time, I must disagree. While, yes, the movement of an entire cultural and racial awakening can only be seen as a phenomenon and the movement itself was by no means cohesive, these powerful men and women needed no institutionalized encouragement. Each of their works were their own with diverse ideas and methods, yet somehow, came together to form an interconnected goal within the movement.
The Harlem Renaissance was the name given to the cultural, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem, New York in the 1920s. The renaissance was more than just a literary movement, it involved racial pride. This was a time for cultural explosion, after African Americans had dealt with years of slavery and the fight or abolition. The encounters with music art and literature of the Harlem Renaissance impacted American society by bringing light to artists, such as writers, musicians and painters that challenged the white society’s ideas about African Americans.
The Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement that began in the 1920s, brought an excitement and a new found freedom and voice to African-Americans who had been silent and oppressed for a long time. This blossoming of African-American culture in European-American society, particularly in the worlds of art and music, became known as The Harlem Renaissance.
Harlem Renaissance was a period where the black intellectuals comprised of the poets, writers, and musicians explored their cultural identity. This paper will explain what the Harlem Renaissance period was really about , as well as the artists that were associated with this practice including Marian Anderson, James Weldon Johnson, and Romare Bearden.
The Harlem Renaissance was an African American cultural movement that began in Harlem, New York after World War I and ended during the late 1930s. The Harlem Renaissance marked the first time that mainstream publishers and critics took African American literature seriously and that African American literature and arts attracted significant attention from the nation at large. It was a blossoming of African American culture, particularly in the creative arts, and the most influential movement in African American literary history. Embracing literary, musical, theatrical, and visual arts, participants sought to re-conceptualize “the Negro” apart from the white stereotypes that had influenced black peoples’ relationship to both their heritage and to each other. Never dominated by a particular school of thought but rather characterized by intense debate, the movement laid the groundwork for all later African American music and had an enormous impact on subsequent black music and literature worldwide. While the renaissance was not confined to the Harlem district of New York City, Harlem attracted a remarkable concentration of intellect and talent and served as the symbolic capital of this cultural awakening. The Harlem Renaissance marked the first time that mainstream publishers and critics, primarily White Americans, took African American creative arts seriously and that it attracted significant attention from the nation at large.
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement of blacks that helped changed their identity. Creative expression flourished because it was the only chance blacks had to express themselves in any way and be taken seriously. World War I and the need for workers up North were a few pull factors for the migration and eventually the Renaissance. A push was the growing discrimination and danger blacks were being faced with in the southern cities. When blacks migrated they saw the opportunity to express themselves in ways they hadn’t been able to do down south. While the Harlem Renaissance taught blacks about their heritage and whites the heritage of others, there were also negative effects. The blacks up North were having the time of their lives, being mostly free from discrimination and racism but down South the KKK was at its peak and blacks that didn’t have the opportunities to migrate experienced fatal hatred and discrimination.
Harlem Renaissance. (2007) The Columbia Eletronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Retrieved October 7, 2007 from Web site: http://www.factmonster.com./ce6/ent/A0822748.html
Hill, Laban Carrick. Harlem Stomp!: A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Little, Brown, 2003. Print.