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The Harlem Renaissance, as a whole, was uprooted from an impacting event known as the Great Migration. During the Great Migration, millions of African Americans had moved north and west in order to avoid oppressive conditions under whites and seek greater prosperity after their Emancipation. However, upon migrating to the city of Harlem, most whites had deserted their property, giving African Americans the chance to spear through the social ladder. Succeeding with a stabilized foundation for their name within society they brought in African American artists, singers, writers, actors and musicians which in turn, attracted whites to return.
Before the 1900s, African Americans were merely minorities who were considered as slaves and property. They were always constantly working on agricultural fields under the white supremacy. However, life change for African Americans when they recognized their political rights and moved to urban areas, which became known as the Great Migration. From there, African Americans were able to fully express themselves through the use of jazz, a type of music characterized by improvisation and syncopation. They were able to reveal their compassion, anger, and grief to make a name for themselves within society. This however, worked because it revolutionized American history as for the first time, blacks and whites were united based off their interests, rather than by force. Before, Whites has put on hypocrisy faces to relay a sense of agreement when seeing blacks around their area, but now, had done it voluntarily.
For so long, blacks were overshadowed by whites simply by their skin tone. They were seen as an uncultured and indifferent group of people from the bottom of the hierarchy, but that soon changed with the rise of political leaders. For instance Marcus Garvey, a founder of black self-determination and unity among black communities across the United States, Caribbean, and Africa, propelled the Civil Rights movement, He had created the Universal Negro Improvement Association to compensate and divulge that African Americans needed only assistance from themselvesx They has the power and dignity to surpass the inferiority set by society. Because of this, it has challenged whites because they felt sympathetic for their harsh actions against blacks throughout history. This, in a way, pushed whites to accept black rights in order to destroy the image of a divided country. If the country were to stay divided, sooner or later, it would collapse into chaos and destruction.
One cannot forget that African American art played a huge role in shaping the Harlem Renaissance. Art, in a way, portrayed African Americans dancing, singing, playing music, or participating in other delightful movements through the use of bold colors in a distinct pattern. It basically had redefined and highlighted black power in that African Americans are not that much different compared to whites when it came down to cultural traditions. Both ethnicities has both cherished the bustling lifestyle like nightclubs in New York. In other words li art permitted the intertwining of two races together through a common interest. Not only that, African American imagery was able to be synthesized with modern art, resulting in a new innovative genre that has never been seen before. If it has not been for the usage of art by African Americans, stereotypes, before and after 1950s, will continuously remain the same. They would still be treated harshly under the black codes and Jim Crow Laws.
One of the contributing factors to the Harlem Renaissance would be seen through the prolific writers. During this era, writers across the United States wanted to express their creativity on the current social condition and strengthen American culture as a whole. For example, Langston Hughes had wanted to elaborate the concerns and challenges that African Americans faced in America such as segregation in schools to work forces and highlight the dreadful conditions that African Americans had to face compared to normal Americans. Not only did he want to portray the lifestyle of blacks, but has also wanted to convey the fact that African Americans have the dignity, racial pride, and strength to be a part of the American dream, the deal that every citizen in the United States has equal opportunity in achieving wealth. This is depicted through the poem "Life Is Fine", where it articulates the importance of persistence when dealing with setbacks, If it were not for the influential writers during the Harlem Renaissance, African Americans wouldn't have the courage to battle against racism and be a respected race as of right now in the 2000s. They would had never spread their African American culture and continuously be racially discriminated across the globe based off their ethnicity.
Explains the background of the Harlem Renaissance and how African American influence culture, politics, and entertainment. Many stars arose from their influences to establish a black community.
"The Ascent of Ethiopia" by Lois Mailou Jones describes the journey of African Americans as slaves climbing the stair of opportunities to creating a community that allows them to express their individuality.
The American Desired by many people worldwide. Immigrants migrate to American for a fresh start to rebuild their lives with the presented resources and opportunities that allows people to follow their dreams. People are given life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. African Americans struggle to achieve their "American Dream".
Langston Hughes was an American poet, novelist, and playwright whose African-American themes made him a primary contributor to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.
The Harlem Renaissance introduces African Americans influences in the American society after many years of discrimination and segregation during the Great Migration. This is the era of Good Feelings with the bloom of jazz, entertainment, and the Civil Rights Movement.
"Souls Of Black Folk" by W.E.B. Du Bois proposes that "the problem of the Twentieth Century of the problem of the color-line". There was discrimination among the African community introduced the expansion of equality and freedom in despite of the racism in America,
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.