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Alain Locke’s “The New Negro” became widely popular during the Harlem Renaissance. In the book, he points out the achievements of African American culture. The term “new negro” became well known during the Harlem Renaissance due to Locke’s book. It refers to outspoken advocacy of dignity and a refusal to settle with Jim Crow Laws. Locke’s book spoke against white Americans to explain the ways African Americans were moving forward culturally and socially despite the old stereotypes white Americans put on them at the time. This work conveys subversion against black opression in America through describing the advances African Americans have made.
The poem "Harlem Sweeties" by Langston Hughes is one of the influential works of the Harlem Renaissance because the imagery and figurative in the poem stimulate Hughes' view of colored women during the Harlem Renaissance and the beauty they portray outside of the homogeneous view non-colored Americans see as beautiful. Hughes compares the physical features of women he sees through Harlem to fruits and sweets, emphasizing the attractiveness of vitality and variety of women that was not common during this time period. "Harlem Sweeties" depicts racial subversion between black and white women. While many Americans in this time period believed having snow white, uncolored skin was beautiful, Hughes showcases the allure of black women's features and compares lips to pomegranates and skin to brown sugar, accentuating the extent of attractiveness does not stop at non-colored individuals, but it is all about variety and all people are beautiful in their own way no matter what tone of skin one is.
Edward Kennedy or more widely known as Duke Ellington was an American composer of jazz music (what he called “American music”). Ellington was a jazz bandleader of a sextet and together they made hundreds of recordings, appeared on the radio and films and toured Europe. His use of jazz music portray’s the feature of being a self-reliant individual. Ellington's music uplifted many of the Harlem Renaissance era and his songs capitalized each individual as themselves, not all together as one. Due to Ellington doing this, he influenced the music industry and the rise of jazz.
Aaron Douglas' work, "Aspects of Negro Life" showcase the rise of African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance in terms of culture and the history of black Americans throughout history. Douglas' use of silhouettes and empty space in all of his works from the Harlem Renaissance era emphasize the abrasive reality for African Americans and also aspirations for a better future. This piece represents subversion away from the "acceptable" skin color and race, and alludes to a new American Dream of everyone who is an American citizen has a right to equal civil and social rights, despite their background or ethnicity.
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller's "Ethopia" highlights the unity between all people of African descent. Warrick Fuller's purpose was to emulate the belief of social, political and economic progress will succeed within the African American community when all intertwine to stand together for what is right. The sculpture depicts an Egyptian/Ethiopian woman unwrapping the mummified lower half of her body while her other hand is on her chest, holding the covering on her head. The mummified wrappings on her legs being taken off represent black Americans are not going to hide away their history and culture anymore. Through the Harlem Renaissance, many black Americans has opportunities to showcase what it is really like to be a proud colored person without shame for their heritage. This is a valorized Modernist take on being the first Pan-African American work of art because blacks were constantly oppressed for their culture, forced to hide it away and assimilate into a completely different culture in order to survive, but the Harlem Renaissance gave way for African Americans to take respect in what had to be bandaged up for so long.
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