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.
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 Harlem Renaissance was a time period where culture became a big issue in the African American community. More writers, poets, play wrights and other artistic figures came into place. Through this time (early 20th century) the term New Negro became more developed. The term originated from the 19th century as a sort of nick name for newly arrived slaves. 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.
He simulated and guided artistic activities and promoted the recognition and respect of blacks by the total American community. He urged and motivated black painters, sculptors, and musicians to look to African sources for identity and to discover materials and techniques for their work. He also encouraged black authors to seek subjects in black life, and to set high artistic standards for themselves. (http://www.biography.com). Locke edited the March 1925 issue of the periodical Survey Graphic, a special on Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance, which helped educate white readers about the flourishing culture there.
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.
Marcus Garvey’s ideas of black nationalism and fighting oppression helped shape the identity of African Americans in the United States during the 1920’s. Marcus Garvey was born on August 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. He began his career as a magazine editor by traveling and residing in Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, and London. He eventually began studying Law and Philosophy at Birkbeck College in London. While living in London, he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA), which was dedicated to black racial pride, economic self-sufficiency, and the formation of an independent black nation in Africa.
Bontemps moved to New York City shortly after his first poem “Hope” was published in THE CRISIS: A RECORD OF THE DARKER RACES (August 1924). Bontemps was an influential and significant member of the Harlem Renaissance. Many of the themes of his work had an integrative approach to African American writings; his attitude toward folk material and Africa, and his racial protest, reflect the primary concerns of Harlem Renaissance literature.
Among the themes and issues explored in this literature are the role of African Americans within the larger American society, African-American culture, racism, slavery, and equality. African-American writing has tended to incorporate oral forms, such as spirituals, sermons, gospel music, blues and rap. As African Americans' place in American society has changed over the centuries, so, has the focus of African-American literature. Before the American Civil War, the literature primarily consisted of memoirs by people who had escaped from slavery; the genre of slave narratives included accounts of life under slavery and the path of justice and redemption to freedom. At the turn of the 20th century, non-fiction works by authors such as W. E. B.
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920’s and 1930’s. During a 90 day period in the 1920’s, 12,000 African Americans left the state of Mississippi to head north with a promise of new jobs due to the war, and this was happening all across the south. At the time it was known as the “New Negro Movement” named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke. Although it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, many French speaking black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris where also influenced by the Harlem renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance is believed to have its social roots traced back to the great migration during the First World War and its philosophical roots back to the turn of the century and the work of black historian and sociologist W.E.B.
In the decades immediately following World War I, huge numbers of African Americans migrated to the industrial North from the economically depressed and agrarian South. In cities such as Chicago, Washington, DC, and New York City, the recently migrated sought and found (to some degree) new opportunities, both economic and artistic. African Americans were encouraged to celebrate their heritage and to become "The New Negro," a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke in his influential book of the same name. Countee Cullen thought long and hard in his poems about his own and collective African-American identity. Some of his strongest poems question the benevolence of a Creator who has bestowed a race with such mixed blessings.