An Analysis Of The Idea Of Cultural Heritage As It Is Presented By Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, And Colleen Mc Elroy

1318 words - 6 pages

“There are words like Freedom / Sweet and wonderful to say. / On my heart-strings freedom sings / All day everyday.” (Refugee, 907) The Harlem Renaissance is most often referred to as one of the most prominent cultural movements of America’s history. This movement primarily spanned from roughly 1919 to the early 1930s. It consisted of a huge African American movement from the southern part of the United States up to the north, specifically, to the neighborhood of Harlem in New York City. This movement did a lot of incredible things in terms of culture, but the greatest was probably the advancement in literature. The Harlem Renaissance marked the first time that African American authors and artists were really taken seriously by the United States culture at large. This recognition actually allowed for some really incredible people to actually become influential members of the literature community. There were hundreds of authors that made themselves known as authors of the Harlem Renaissance, but there were a few that stood out incredibly among the crowd. Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Colleen McElroy were some of the most prominent authors to come out of the Harlem Renaissance simply because of their extreme views on the idea of cultural heritage and the role that it plays in the development of the future.
Langston Hughes’ very clearly portrays that, to himself, cultural heritage is something that happens inevitably when you are born into a certain culture. Hughes, unlike the other two authors presented does not specifically stress the importance of handing down the stories from generation to generation. He, instead, suggests that culture is something that you are born into, and that it does not have to be stressed on you. He presents the idea that cultural heritage is inevitable, and that when an individual is born into a specific culture, they immediately take on the part of that heritage wordlessly, and though they may not know every detail about the past, they know where they come from, and who they are, and he believes that the idea of cultural heritage is not at all decreased by this method. Just one example of this is within his text I, Too when he begins to discuss how the oppressor will feel once all of this is said and done. “Besides, / They’ll see how beautiful I am / And be ashamed— / I, too, am America.” (I, Too, 905) Every time that Hughes says the word “I” within this text, he is really talking about an entire group of individuals, more specifically, the African American community. He states that when all of the oppression is said and done, and they have taken back their rights as human beings, the white culture will look at them, and feel ashamed for having been so heartless to fellow human beings. Not only this, but by stating it in the way that he did, Hughes basically certifies that this is inevitable, and therefore, it does not matter where your place is as an African American individual, you will feel the benefit while...

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