Harlem Renaissance Essay

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The Harlem Renaissance was seen as an artistic movement amongst the African Americans. This research document highlights the definition of Harlem Renaissance movement, five authors of the Harlem Renaissance such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and some more describing their childhood as well as their inspirations to be part of this movement. Additionally, five more authors like Jean Toomer, Walter White as well as James Weldon Johnson will be described with their roles during this movement, expressing the African-American culture. Also, the themes in the black urban experience such as racial pride, slavery and political hierarchy during the Harlem Renaissance will likewise be outlined. Furthermore, five different critiques with solutions to each of them, by various individuals of the Harlem Renaissance will be explained in this research document.


“Every race and every nation should be judged by the best it has been able to produce, not by the worst”.(The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man ch.10). This quote was from James Weldon Johnson which meant everyone should be recognized best for his or her good deeds only. Like the Harlem Renaissance recognized African Americans with their intelligence, art, writers, philosophies and some more good deeds that were their best, this research paper will give a detailed explanation of the Harlem Renaissance movement, describe fully the lives of different authors that influenced the Harlem Renaissance movement, give the roles of other authors that took part in the movement, review the themes in the black urban experience that occurred during the Harlem Renaissance and finally disclose the criticisms to the Harlem Renaissance movement by various individuals.


The word “renaissance” means a rebirth and it usually describes an artistic movement. The Harlem Renaissance was an era of heightened creativity among African American writers, artists and musicians. Harlem Renaissance was a growing improvement of African American culture, especially in the inventive explanations, and the most persuading progression in African American astute history. The names given to this change uncover its crucial highlights. Totally the words “diminish” and “Negro” recommend that this change concentrated on African Americans, and the explanation “renaissance” shows that something new was viewed as or, all the more precisely, that a social soul was blended in African American social life.(Hutchinson, G.(2017, December 12). Harlem Renaissance; American Literature And Art.

However, most keepers recall the Harlem Renaissance as an exceptional progression, certainly, African Americans amidst the 1920s in like way made personality boggling walks around melodic and visual verbalizations, and moreover science. Point of fact, the enabling improvements in African American social nearness of the 1920s were not constrained to Harlem, but rather in like way had developed in other urban get-togethers where diminish Americans moved in sublime numbers. Never overwhelmed by a specific school of thought yet or conceivably portrayed by solidly wrangle about, the change set up the system for each of the a while later African American composed work and gigantically influenced coming about dull piece and care around the globe.(Gale, C.(2008).International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences.

While the renaissance was not bound to the Harlem district of New York City, Harlem pulled in an amazing association of judgment and limit and filled in as the significant capital of this social stimulating. The Harlem Renaissance was on a very basic level seen as a rebuilding of the African American knowledge. It was furthermore a post world war I improvement from which move and jazz music rose. While the renaissance in view of prior customs of African American culture, it was basically affected by designs, for instance, primitivism-in European and white American innovative circles. Pioneer primitivism was pushed generally by Freudian personality look at, yet it tended to laud “unrefined” society’s as getting a charge out of a more encourage relationship to the fundamental world and to essential human needs than “over mingled” whites.Appropriate on time in the twentieth century, European vanguard aces had drawn motivation from African cover as they separated from down to earth credible styles toward appearance in portray and outline. (Ceiml4archives.(2016,July 11). Survey Graphic: Harlem Mecca Of The New Negro.)

The Harlem Renaissance was moreover a period of preference and injustice. Due to the Harlem Renaissance advancement, it influenced the blacks to move generally from the south where they lived, at the North. That development was suggested as “The Great Migration” , when African Americans move toward the Northern districts to seek out occupations and in a general sense better ways of life. The Great Migration helped begin a social energizing for these people in New York City.(Bruce,K.(n.d.). A Historical Dictionary For The Era.)


Many African American authors who were part of this magnificent movement explored what it meant to be black in the United States. The most authoritative American poet of the 1920’s was Langston Hughes. He was an American novelist and poet born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. He also produced his foremost poem in 1921. He was done with High School in 1921 and spent the next year with his father at Mexico. Two years after, Hughes wrote a poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” which reflected his root in America’s culture and was published in “The Crisis Magazine” and equally importantly got praised.(The Biography.com website). He returned back to the United States got admitted into the Columbia University. He studied briefly in the Columbia University and quickly became part of the Harlem Renaissance movement . Hughes’s creative genius was influenced by his life New York City’s Harlem, an African-American neighbourhood. His works helped shape the literature of American politics. Hughes had a strong sense of racial pride and then through his poetry and novels, he condemned racism and celebrated African-American culture. He died May 22,1967.(The Library of Congress; America’s Story from America’s Library)

Another recognized author of this movement was Countee Cullen. Countee Cullen was a well known African American poet, novelist and playwright. Countee Cullen was born May 30th, 1903. His exact place of birth is not precise. Later on, he was brought to Harlem at the age of 9 by his paternal grandmother who took care of him till she died at 1918. While in high school (DeWitt Clinton High School),Cullen won a citywide competition with a poem. His glory endured at New York college in which he had his first and second prizes on variety of poetry contests. Due to Cullen’s realization in both black and white cultures, he formulated an art that embraced each cultures. One of his famous quotes was, “In order for a write to succeed, I suggest three things–read, write and wait.”(Paulette,B.(2017,February 17). Notable Quotes). Countee Cullen changed into a historic figure of the Harlem Renaissance widely known for his poetry and plays. Countee Cullen was stimulated by means of John Keats’ works to be part of the Harlem Renaissance. Countee Cullen died January 9th, 1946 in big apple metropolis.

Another famous author of the Harlem Renaissance was James Weldon Johnson. James Weldon Johnson changed into born on June 17, 1871, in Jacksonville, Florida. His mother recommended him to take a look at English Literature and European musical tradition. James Weldon Johnson attended Atlanta University, hoping that might be used to in addition the hobbies of African Americans. In 1900, James Weldon Johnson wrote a song titled, “Lift every voice and sing”. He wrote this poem on Lincoln’s birthday and it tremendously became popular in the black community and became “The Negro National Anthem”.(Nelson, C.(2000).Modern American Poetry)

Twelve years later, he published his novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (French & Co.), the story of a musician who rejects his black roots for a life of material comfort in the white world. The book explores the issue of racial identity in the twentieth century, a common theme for the writers of the Harlem Renaissance.James Weldon Johnson died June 26, 1938 at Wiscasset Maine.

Another prominent author of the Harlem Renaissance was Helene Johnson. Helene Johnson was born July 6, 1906 in Boston and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts. Helene Johnson has been said not to know who her father was and that her mother was a child of former slaves. So she lived for a while with her grandfather with her two aunts who nicknamed her Helene.She went to both Boston and Columbia University. Her talents as a writer were noticed early when she won first prize in a short story contest sponsored by the “Boston Chronicle”. In the 1920s, she moved to New York City with her cousin Dorothy West, a novelist, and became part of the Harlem Renaissance. In his essay in the book ‘The HarlemRenaissance Remembered’, Ronald Primeau described her work: “Helene Johnson combines an expression of unquenchable desires with realistic description of ghetto life and a discovery of the roots of her people.” Helene produced different poems during the 1920’s in small magazines and in the 1930’s, she published a poem, “Fire”, edited by Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman and Richard Bruce Nugent. Helene Johnson’s work equally in journals such as ‘Opportunity’: ‘A Journal of Negro Life’ and ‘Vanity Fair’ and in later anthologies such as ‘The Poetry of the Negro’ (1949), ‘American Negro Poetry’ (1963), and ‘Voices from the Harlem Renaissance’ (1976). Her last published poems appeared in the mid-1930s, in an issue of “Challenge: A Literary Quarterly”. Johnson married William Hubbell in 1933 and had one daughter, Abigail McGrath. Though Johnson continued to write, and her work appeared in anthologies, she never published original poetry again. She died in 1995.(Monroe,H.(1912). Poetry Foundation)

Finally, Anne Spencer. Anne Bethel Spencer was born February 6,1882 in Henry County, Virginia and she graduated from Virginia Seminary in 1899. She has be said to be the first Virginian and African American poet to be in the “Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry” (W, Norton. 1973). She also had close friendship with other poets such as James Weldon Johnson. She published over thirty poems in anthologies and magazines during her lifetime and they were important to the Harlem Renaissance movement.(Monroe,H.(1912). Poetry Foundation)


Humanist, political lobbyist, editorial manager, writer, author, artist, and prophet,William Edward Burghardt Du Bois stands as one of the towering figures in American history. He was the most important black protest leader in the United States during the first half of the 20th. (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica) He was an innovative activist and through his political and social engagement, contributed to the artistic emancipation of the African Americans in the Harlem Renaissance. He contributed to this flourishing of black intelligence by writing poems, essays and important quotes like “ Until the art of black folk compels recognition, they will not be rated as human”. (PREZI)

Another author that contributed to the Harlem Renaissance movement was Rudolph Fisher. Rudolph Fisher was the most skilled short-story essayist of the Harlem Renaissance, with much of his work concerning the alteration of Southern dark vagrants to the urban scene of Harlem- notably in such pieces as “High Yaller”, ‘City of Refuge” and “Miss Cynthie”.(Hutchinson,G.(2017, December 12). Harlem Renaissance; American Literature And Art). He also bolstered Pan-African congress members advanced colonized Africans to choose their own governments in order to pick up of political control as a vital prerequisite for total social, financial and political liberation.

Another author that played a role in this glorious movement was Claude McKay. Claude McKay was a persuasive Harlem Renaissance writer. His ballads ‘America’ and ‘If We Must Die’ investigated the confounded relationship African Americans had with their general surroundings.He made ready for black artists to talk about the conditions and prejudice that they looked in their poems.

Lorraine Hansberry was also a superb playwright and writer who played a magnificent role in the Harlem Renaissance. The extension of African American culture in the Harlem Renaissance was also shown in Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, “A Raisin in the sun” through Rhythm and Blue music and Beneatha’s value for education. Her character incorporates the importance of African American education from the Harlem Renaissance period.

Lastly, Zora Neale Hurston. Zora Neale Hurston began her career as an anthropologist. She traveled through the South and the Caribbean, collecting the folklore of black people. She later transformed these into novels, short stories and essays. Her best-known novel is “Their Eyes Were Watching God” which tells the story of an African American woman living in the black town of Eaton, Florida. She also lets her characters speak in their own dialect and voices.(History Alive; Pursuing American Ideals.(p.320))


What described the Harlem Renaissance was an unmistakable racial pride and the creating thought of another dark character, that through astuteness and generation of writing, workmanship, and music could challenge the overrunning prejudice and advance dynamic legislative issues.
There was no joining structure describing the workmanship that developed, in any case. It incorporated a wide assortment of styles, including Pan-African viewpoints; high culture and low culture; customary music to blues and jazz; conventional and test frames in writing, for example, innovation; and the new type of jazz verse.

Some regular topics spoke to amid the Harlem Renaissance were the impact of subjection, dark personality, the impacts of institutional bigotry, the situations of performing and composing for first class white groups of onlookers, and how to pass on the experience of present day dark life in the urban North. (Lumen:Boundless History)

New authors also pulled in an awesome measure of national consideration, and the Harlem Renaissance prompted more open doors for blacks to be distributed by standard houses. Describing the Harlem Renaissance was a plain racial pride that came to be spoken to in the possibility of the New Negro, who through judgment and generation of writing, workmanship, and music could challenge the plaguing prejudice and generalizations to advance dynamic or communist governmental issues, and racial and social joining. The production of workmanship and writing would serve to “elevate” the race.


According to Collins English Dictionary, Criticism is the act of expressing disapproval of something and someone. During the Harlem Renaissance, the African Americans were not only praised for their good works but were also criticized as well. Many critics factored out that the Harlem Renaissance couldn’t get away its records and lifestyle in its try to create a brand new one, or sufficiently separate from the foundational factors of White culture. frequently Harlem intellectuals, whilst proclaiming a new racial consciousness, resorted to mimicry of their white opposite numbers through adopting their apparel, state-of-the-art manners, and etiquette.(Harlem Renaissance)

This “mimicry” will also be called assimilation, as this is typically what minority contributors of any social assemble should do if you want to fit social norms created by way of that construct’s majority. This could be seen as a reason that the artistic and cultural products of the Harlem Renaissance did no longer triumph over the presence of White-American values, and did no longer reject these values. in this regard, the introduction of the “New Negro” as the Harlem intellectuals sought, changed into taken into consideration an achievement. (The Harlem Dispatch) The Harlem Renaissance finished suddenly due to gullible suppositions about the centrality of culture, inconsequential to social substances.Langston Hughes represented the majority of the scholars and craftsmen when he wrote in his paper “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926) that dark specialists planned to convey what needs be openly, regardless of what the dark open or white open idea. Hughes in his works additionally came back to the subject of racial passing, however amid the Harlem Renaissance, he started to investigate the point of homosexuality and homophobia. He started to utilize problematic dialect in his works. He investigated this subject since it was a topic that amid this era was not talked about. Solutions that should’ve been suggested for these similar critiques is that the African Americans shouldn’t have had close relationships between them and the Whites as that is where criticism could probably have fallen out from.

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