Journey to the Harlem Renaissance
As America moves into a more cultural and diversified era, more people are taking the time to learn about the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was the foremost form of freedom for African Americans. It showed blacks that they were becoming equals in American society. The talents of African Americans soared in art, music, literature and especially poetry. The main writers embodying the Harlem Renaissance were Claude McKay, Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen.
Claude was born in Jamaica, in 1898. He got his education from his older brother, who “possessed a library of English novels, poetry and scientific texts.” (Callahan, 784) Claude was a little older when he created his first piece of literary work. He published a book called Songs of Jamaica. It was a “record of his impressions of black life in Jamaica.” (Callahan,783) In 1912, he finally got to America, where he wrote Harlem Shadows; “his most important book of poetry.” (Callahan 784) While there, he attended the Tuskegee Institute. In 1914 he moved to Harlem, “the center of black culture in the U.S.” (Anderson, 704) He later published two sonnets, “The Harlem Dancer” and “Invocation”, in 1917. He “would later use the same poetic form to record his reactionary views on the injustices of black life in America.” (Callahan, 785) In addition to social and political concerns, McKay wrote on a variety of subjects, “from his Jamaican homeland to romantic love, with a use of passionate language.” (Callahan, 785) During the twenties he developed an interest in Communism, so he visited Russia to meet the architects of Russian Communism, Lenin and Trotsky. He also lived in France. When he came back to the U.S., he moved back to Harlem. There he became a well known poet. “McKay’s viewpoints and poetic achievements in the earlier part of the twentieth century set the tone for the Harlem Renaissance and gained deep respect of younger black poets of the time […]”. (Callahan, 784) Before he died, he “published […] A Long Way From Home. It was a culmination of his life as a political activist, novelist, essayist and poet.” (Callahan, 785)
On February 1, 1902, Langston Hughes was born. He was born “James Langston Hughes.” (Rueben) He was born in Missouri. His parents divorced when he was a younger child. His dad left and went to Mexico. His grandmother had the task to raise him. “He stayed there until he was twelve.” (Hampson) Then his mother wanted him back. So he moved “to Lincoln, Illinois […] eventually settling in Cleveland, Ohio.” (Anderson, 706) Langston began writing creative poetry in the eight grade. He went on to attend Central High School in Cleveland. “he was a coveted award winner as a teen.” (Reuben) “It was during his high school years that Hughes began to take poetry seriously.” (Reuben) Langston was becoming one of the most predominant writing figures of the time. “The most important early influence on Hughes’...