The Harlem Renaissance: A Cultural African American Movement

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The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural African American movement beginning in the 1920’s and lasting through the 1930’s. During World War One, American factories were facing a worker shortage due to the increase of young men heading off to battle. With promises of economic prosperity that sharecropping did not offer, rural African Americans from the south migrated to urban northern cities. The cities that saw the largest influx of African Americans were New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit.1 When the war ended and soldiers returned home racial tensions began to build due to the lack of jobs and affordable housing.2 Increasing rent prices helped African Americans ban together to form their own neighborhoods, such as
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Known as the Harlem Renaissance, which was part of the New Negro Movement, this era gave way to an exploration of what it meant to be a negro.4 No longer looking through the lens of white stereotypes, African Americans were embracing their heritage, identity and modern life experiences. The increase in cultural pride that swept across African American communities resulted in an increase of literacy, uplifting of their race by appreciating and acknowledging their heritage and the creation of professional organizations such as the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The Harlem Renaissance became an awaking of African American literature, theatre, music and visual arts. African Americans had an opportunity for expression and self reflection that the previously were unable to have in the south. Through the visual arts, African American artists explored the themes of the black experience, identity and racial pride. Through these themes and others, the Harlem Renaissance would impact many generations of African Americans long after the movement
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Although white and black people faced a food shortage during World War One, it was tougher on those families in the south due to the constraints of sharecropping. To convey his statement, the couple sitting off center appear to be dwarfed by the empty table and bare blue environment in which they are located, in panel ten. With their heads hunched down, the heaviness of their situation begins sets in. In Panel eleven, a small child stands off to the side as his mother rations out food. The woman’s head is hunched down, as if she is hold the weight of the world on her shoulders. Working by the light of a candle, her body is angled a way to help illustrate the arduous task of rationing out food. All the while, a small child who is no more than skin and bones watches and waits for when it might be his turn for something to
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