The first issue was that his father, who was a Negro of mixed blood, disliked Negroes. Arnold Rampersad, the author of a critical essay on “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, states that Hughes had the following recollection: “All day on the train, I had been thinking about my father and his strange dislike of his own people. I didn’t understand it, because I was a Negro, and I liked Negroes very much.” The second issue was that America looked upon the freed Negro as uncivilized and without roots. Hughes said in his autobiography, “The Big Sea: An Autobiography”, that he saw the Mississippi River and remembered what it ‘had meant to Negroes in the past’. Hughes stated that he then thought about rivers in African American’s past: Conger, Niger, and the Nile.
Harlem became home to black people, many of whom had dreams and aspirations of expressing their individual artistic talents. This was the gateway through which artist like impressive novelist Zora Neale Hurston impacted society with her courageous literary writing. Similarly, the exploding soulful voice of Bessie Smith popularized the blues genre for radio music. As well as Augusta Savages’ creative sculptures dispelling the common stereotypes. Their portrayals of poverty and the black experience through art were beautiful creations birthed from something once viewed as ugly.
In his early life, Langston Hughes quickly became an important figure in the black society and was known for taking part in the shaping of the, "Negro Renaissance" (Smiles). Writing his first known poem when he was only 17, Hughes quickly dove into the arts. Growing up, most of his time was spent in Lawrence, Kansas, where Hughes first started to discover racism and the community of blacks versus white (Low). Hughes did notice the lack of motivation in the young black community, so he himself began to help to set an example and to motivate others. In Hughes' work involving the black race, he challanged the stereotypes by expressing not only the "nitty-gritty" reality, but the hard working blacks as well.
Intro to US 2 27 March 2012 The Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was a time in American history when African American culture could finally intermingle with the culture already established in America. Starting after World War 1, the HR was “about creating art that could be shared with others—both whites and blacks” (Rau 5). The influx of African Americans moving to Harlem was caused by the increasing hostility towards African Americans in the South. Around the start of the Great Migration, which was the movement of six million African Americans from the South to the North, there was a surge in Klu Klux Klan activity. Even thought there was not much more opportunity in the North, at least there was racial tolerance, something the African Americans of the South were craving.
[McCullough, David, Truman, Simon and Schuster, 1992, p. 247] for example, he was deeply moved by stories of black war veterans who were the victims of racist attack after they defended America in WW2 and wanted to give them a better opportunity in life then what they were initially provided with. He had been particularly affected by the experience of Isaac Woodard, the African-American sergeant who had been dragged from a bus in Batesburg, South Carolina, and beaten and blinded by police. The October 1947 ‘to secure these rights’ a series of reports that covered a range of topics, including discrimination in the army, lynching between 1882-1945, police brutality, voting rights, employment and education and racial discrimination in the area of health also, each one of the reports followed recommendations of how the problem should be tackled. The first problem discussed in the report was lynching in the years 1882-1945, there had been over 300 lynchings in five of the southern states. Statistics show that although lynching had declined no year after 1882 was free of it for example, from 1882-1968 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States and 3,446 were black.
He is loved, and cherished in the two countries he called home; The United States and France. He was regarded as the “Spokesman of the Civil Rights Movement”. He rubbed elbows with “who’s who” in Music, Culture, and Politics. His writings sparked controversies, and was praised in all corners of the world. Most of his writings describe the troubles and drama of being a black person in America.
Despite this, Black people showed resistance, as mentioned by Robinson in Black Movements in America. The Blacks resisted the new production of race and racism in the American context by either assimilating or separating. In the new construction of race and racism during the mid 19th century, blackface minstrelsy played an immense role in acknowledging differences in skin color. Lott mentions that “blackface minstrelsy was an established nineteenth-century theatrical practice, principally of the urban North, in which white men caricatured blacks for sport and profit” (Lott pg.3). White men caricatured blacks by painting the visible parts of their body with burnt cork or greasepaint suggesting immediately that Black people were indeed black.
Rachael Darrabie Professor Doku Freshman Composition 26 October 2011 “The South” “The South”, a poem written by Langston Hughes, represents the mindset that many migrants held during this time; an attitude that was the sole inspiration and motivation for the powerful racial pride that initiated the Harlem Renaissance. It was a demeanor developed from the social constructions in the South fused with the hopes and dreams of life in the North. The years between World War I and the Great Depression were good economic times for the United States, and jobs were plentiful in cities, especially in the North. Many southern blacks took advantage of this economic period which led to the start of the Great Migration; this gave Harlem its geographical importance. The Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro Movement, was direct product of the Great Migration through location, racial pride, and social construction.
Concealed Pain and Suffering The short poem “We Wear the Mask” is about oppressed black Americans forced to hide their pain and frustration behind a façade of happiness and contentment, written by Paul Laurence Dunbar and published in 1896. Prejudice was rampant in the late 19th century. So it was that many blacks wore a mask that suggested happiness and contentment but concealed their pain and suffering. Prejudice was the official policy in Dunbar’s lifetime, governmentally and otherwise, and whites vastly outnumbered blacks. Sometimes, blacks even withheld their true feelings from one another, for defeat and desperation were difficult to articulate, and could impose deep anxiety upon loved ones.
The New Negro term included “violent resistance to oppression and the conservative anti-protest orientation of Booker T. Washington.” (Ferguson, 3) Writers had a big influence on the community throughout newspapers, magazines, etc; and most writers believe d that the New Negro should exemplify creativity, independence, strength, power, equality, and improvement. Creativity was more so a huge part of the Harlem Renaissance all together but the New Negro was all a part of that. Being creative and artistic became more common in the African American community, and was more widely accepted. Black people were not as “shy” or “scared” to show their talent and artistic self expression. Alain Locke said in his foreword to the New Negro (1925) America seeking a new spiritual expansion and artistic maturity, trying to find an American literature, a natural art, and natural music implies a Negro-American culture seeking the same satisfactions and objectives.