African American Literature Essay

2084 Words9 Pages
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. —Langston Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” Like the great rivers in Langston Hughes's famous poem, African American literature has no single starting point, it flows from the songs, tales, knowledge, and beliefs that Africans brought with them to North America. From poets of the eighteenth century and the autobiographies of nineteenth century slave narrators to the Harlem Renaissance and the political and aesthetic struggles of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements; African American literature has continued to expand and gather strength. African American Literature has impacted American history because it paved the way for African Americans to establish themselves as writers African American literature began at different moments, and has reflected the wide variety of lived experiences and artistic techniques that have continued to distinguish the African American literary tradition. Again and again, African American literature has been reborn in new form responding to the new experiences, desires, and needs of writers and readers of different places and different times. When thinking of African American literature; one cannot do so without thinking of the Harlem Renaissance. The literary culture of the Harlem Renaissance encouraged productive disagreements about the literary aspirations of African Americans. Perhaps no other movement in American literary history has been as productive, or as influential. In this brief period; writers such as Gwendolyn Bennett, Arna Bontemps, Sterling Brown, Countee Cullen, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay, Rudolph Fisher, George Schuyler, Wallace Thurman, Jean Toomer, and Dorothy West, to name a few , began their careers. A Raisin in the Sun tells the story of a
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