The Black Arts Movement proved to be a very pivotal, and much needed moment in African-American literature to disrupt a past tradition of humble, prim, “decorous ambassadors” African-American novelist have been categorized as (Wright 1403). During the movement a shift occurred in the perspectives and understanding of African-American novelists and poets. The conscience of the those in literature seemed to have been awakened as they became aware of their social responsibility and influence in the African-American community. The range of the views held by those of the Black Arts Movement varied significantly from the social function of African-American art to a more narrow perspective of what it means to be a black individual and or writer. A great deal of the work created at this time was very opinionated and designed to empower and uplift African-Americans.
Many of Hughes’s poems stand out in their description of the black experience. Some of the poems that stand out include “Ku Klux,” “House In the World,” and “Children’s Rhymes.” These poems delve into the world of fear, segregation, and the lost innocence of black culture. These poems genuinely demonstrate the difficult lives most black people had to live. Langston Hughes was one of the most influential black poets of the twentieth century. He took part in the Harlem Renaissance and taught the world about black life and culture.
Africa was a common identifier among the black community for obvious reasons and was where Authors and Artists looked for inspiration. African American artists adopted the simple black silhouette and angular art found in original African pieces. Authors looked to Africa in their poetry. In The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes, the names of rivers in Africa such as the Euphrates, the Congo and the Nile were all used and then the scene switches to the Mississippi river found in America showing that blacks have “seen”, or experienced both. Huggins looks deeply into Countee Cullen’s Heritage discussing “what is Africa to me?” a common identifier that united black artistry in the Harlem Renaissance, “Africa?
The African American spirit was alive in the blues and Langston drew that spirit into his poetry. Langston Hughes’ work was filled with the plight he suffered, the inequality of the ideal and the reality of American, and the dreams he aspired for his people and his country. Reading this major figure of the Harlem Renaissance today can bring the reader back in time to an era whose dreams longed for the world we have today. Works Cited Barksdale, Richard. Langston Hughes: The Poet And His Critics.
She has a way with words, and I feel that this ballad is very representative of her skill as a writer. Works Cited Mootry, Maria K. “ ‘Chocolate Mabbie’ and ‘Pearl May Lee’: Gwendolyn Brooks and the Ballad Tradition. Vale – Rutgers Univerisity Libraries. http://galegroup.com/servlet/LitRC?vrsn=3&OP=contains&locID=rutgers&srchtp.html Smith, Gary. “Gwendolyn Brook’s ‘A Street in Bronzeville’, the Harlem Renaissance and the Mythologies of Black Women.
O Blues!” (Norton 1733) “The Weary Blues” captures an important element of the black identity, that of its music and the soul which is put into its expression. The poem captures that soul of the black man as he wails a mellow tune to the beat of a blues rhythm. Langston Hughes established himself as the poet laureate of Harlem. He served as the voice of the downtrodden, as well the elite in black culture. The criticism that he once received is now praise as his influence is manifested in the affirmation of the black identity.
Hughes’ heartfelt concern for his people’s struggle evokes the reader’s emotion. His appreciation for black music and culture is evident in his work as well. Langston Hughes is a complex poet whose profound works provide insight into all aspects of black life in America, including oppression, struggle, music and culture. Hughes speaks about black oppression in a full range of representation. The blacks that Hughes focuses most of his writing on are the “most burdened and oppressed of the black underclass, and people who have the most reason to despair but show the least evidence of it” (Bloom, “Thematic Analysis of the ‘Weary Blues’” 14).
Those well-educated blacks are called the New Negro. The new Negro was American who contributed to his social and cultural community, and this was happen in Harlem. Most of them express their feeling as an African-American through poetry. They were proudly written about African-American culture. Some of them were writing about the discrimination they got as a black people.
They referred to themselves as the New Negro. The New Negro was the foundation for an era called the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance allowed for the manifestation of the double consciousness of the Negro race as demonstrated by artists such as Langston Hughes. During the height of the Harlem Renaissance Langston Hughes created poetry that was not only artistically and musically sound but also captured a blues essence giving life to a new style of poetry as it depicted the African American struggles with self and society. One thing is for sure, Hughes consistent use of common themes allows them to be the very basis of the Harlem Renaissance.
Countee Cullen's poetry was extremely motivated by race. He produced poetry that celebrates his African American Heritage, dramatizes black heroism, and reveals the reality of being black in a hostile world. In "Harlem Wine," Cullen reveals how blacks overcome their pain and rebellious inclinations through the medium of music (Shields 907). James Weldon Johnson said that Cullen was always seeking to free himself and his art from these bonds (Shields 905). In "Yet Do I Marvel," Cullen raises questions about the motivation God might have had in making a poet black in bidding him sing in a world that is fundamentally racist and that does not readily accept the creative work of African Americans (Shackleford 1013).