King’s “I Have a Dream” speech gave many men and women of different races hope for a better and brighter future. Starting his speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. uses previous United States documents that state that all men, regardless of race, are to be treated as equals. This proves to the audience that King is educated and fighting towards integration that should already be active. He continues on to tell emotional stories of the hardships that colored men have dealt with over the past century. After slavery ended, African Americans enjoyed their freedom, but were never free from the discrimination that still existed in the hearts of many white people.
The Second World War did improve the status of Black Americans, in the sense that it empowered many and encouraged them to fight for change, however it did nothing to address racial segregation or its legal foundation - Plessey v. Ferguson. On the one hand, black soldiers returned as heroes and 500,000 black workers who moved to the North were paid better, and therefore in both senses the position of Black Americans improved . The densely populated black communities which formed as a result of the migration also lead to a heightened consciousness of the inequalities which existed and lead to the formation of civil rights groups such as CORE. On the other hand, black soldiers returned to a country where segregation was still considered legal across the south. Overall, while the Second World War did improve the position of African Americans to a certain extent, there were still significant problems that were not addressed.
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.
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.
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.
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. When the Harlem Renaissance started, many prominent figures emerged from the myriad of writers, thinkers, artists, and musicians of the time. W.E.B Du Bois was an African American thinker and sociologist, who was very prominent in the Harlem Renaissance. He was at the forefront of the civil rights movement during this time and helped create the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (“W.E.B Du Bois”). Another famous figure of the Harlem Renaissance was Langston Hughes.
The year 1945 saw the end of the second world war and what most African American hoped to be the end of racism. From then to 1955 there were a lot of social, economic and political factors that improved the position of Black Americans. However, there was also evidence of regress during this time aswell. There was a sufficient amount more progress than regress during this time. Economically, the position of Black Americans moved forward after 1945 as the FEPC ( was set up to help African Americans find jobs.
Malcolm X also brought the idea of Black Pride to many oppressed African-Americans in disadvantaged urban areas, where his influence was strongest. He did this by teaching them that “Black is Beautiful” and gave them someone to look up to. He may not have first
Its artistic and unique styles assisted with breaking down racial barriers by proving a voice that resonated throughout America and the world. As African-Americans transitioned to more urban areas and their social and economic status began to change, so did their musical progression. Many different “negro sounds” emerged around the same time of Rhythm and Blues, but of all those genres it had and still has one of the most profound sounds in the music industry. Sure, Rhythm and Blues originated from genre styles such as gospel, jazz and blues, but what made it so refreshing was that it combined all of those styles and made a brand new sound to give back to the people. This new style of music consisted of constant rhythms (as stated in the name of the genre) and different instruments such as; saxophones, drums, bass guitars, and the human voice, simultaneously playing together to generate a sound that focused on the failures and triumphs of African-American culture as a whole.
Characterizing the Harlem Renaissance was an overt racial pride that came to be represented in the idea of the New Negro, who through intellect and production of literature, art, and music could challenge the pervading racism and stereotypes to promote progressive or socialist politics, and racial and social integration. The Harlem Renaissance was one of primarily African-American involvement. It rested on a support system of black patrons, black-owned businesses and publications. This is the positive effect of Hughes’ poem, the effect of not deferring your dreams and following through with them to become successful. The theme of the poem simply means that to postpone one's deepest dreams, goals and desires can lead to destruction of one’s self, “Or does it explode?” (line 11).