The Harlem Renaissance, Jazz and Billie Holiday Essay

The Harlem Renaissance, Jazz and Billie Holiday Essay

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The Harlem Renaissance, Jazz and Billie Holiday


In Harlem, the people sit on their front porches in protest of the summer Sunday sun, fanning themselves with the morning paper as the day slides away. Out on the streets, neighbors call to each other. A woman’s voice is audible from an open window, singing nonsensically as she scrubs. Her melodies tumble out the window and intertwine with the trembling harmonica rising from the heat of the pavement and venture into the store on the corner. The boisterous laughter of men on the porch mixes with the skip of the jump rope slapping the sidewalk and the shrieking of children. All the faces on the streets, inside the houses, and emitting the shrieks are not the same ones to be found along Fifth Avenue, across town. This small portion of Manhattan is entirely black, except when the sun sets.

Dusk somehow radiates calm to the slightly jittery Whites that pour into the city for an evening of entertainment. Only in darkness is when the Whites feel safer in making the pilgrimage to Harlem. Differentiating skin color isn’t a chore when pedestrians are only a possibility-- when the sun doesn’t make lightness or darkness so apparent. People parade into the city dressed up to the nines, out to hear the latest style of music, dance the latest dance, or see the latest revue. Creation spewing from this cultural Mecca is insatiably sought after and people of all ethnicities wish to embrace it as their own.

High heels and wingtips carry stocking feet into various downtown dumps and dives for a change of pace, clamoring for Black artists to whom they would never give the time of day if the sun were out. Yet the patience of nighttime is incontestable. The rhythms and rhymes coinciding with th...


... middle of paper ...


... to break into show business at all.

The great "Lady Day" lived her whirlwind life, making decisions that would have made any mother’s head spin. But her unbelievable life helped pave the way for other Black female artists, so that they had a strong female example that didn’t back down in the face of Racial and Sexist tensions and worked so hard to overcome them that the stress was too much, and she sought solace in narcotics because the pressure was too great.

Today, the legacy of Billie Holiday lives on. People are continuously intrigued by her life, inspired by her music, and impressed with the difficulties she faced. Armed with her music, Billie Holiday faced the world on the offensive, constantly battling those who presented her with obstacles. Though she did not fight flawlessly, her ambitions and her dreams carried her through life as best they could.

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