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Critique On The Harlem Renaissance Essay

647 words - 3 pages

Harlem was the center of urban black life. If you wanted to write, you went to Harlem. If you wanted to dance, you went to Harlem. If you wanted to effect social change, you went to Harlem. If you wanted to compose music, you went to Harlem. If you wanted the best chance at changing your circumstances and you were black, you went to Harlem. It was considered the heart of the Renaissance in African American letters, hence the name The Harlem Renaissance. It was also considered the heart of African American life, hence the designation of Harlem as Home in most black literature of the time. Harlem stands, then, not only as a designation of a geographical area, but also as a symbol for the best and worst qualities of African American life during the early twentieth century. If you want to know anything about that time, then, you must first start with Harlem. In chapter 18 From Slavery to Freedom the ups and downs of the Harlem Renaissance in discussed in depth.JHF discusses how the term Harlem Renaissance referred to an artistic, cultural, and social burgeoning of writing about race and the African American's place in American life during the early 1920s and 1930s and how it's hard to put an exact date on this period because what happened during this time--in terms of social criticism, protest, and political advancements as well as in terms of the growing literati--was a long time in developing. Many critics date the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance with the publication of Jean Toomer's novel Cane (1923). The book investigates the lower class life of the African American, who in many ways is still connected spiritually and psychologically to slavery, as well as the life of the urbanized "New Negro," who loses sight of his spiritual heritage because he is too intent on pursuing material things. Toomer's novel was one of the first to treat the subject of the African American life with dignity, respect,...

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