The Harlem Renaissance was a pivotal point in history. While it did not break down the racial barriers associated with Jim Crow laws, the attitudes toward race did change. Most importantly, black pride became paramount as African Americans sought to express themselves artistically through art and literature, in an effort to create an identity for themselves equal to that of the white Americans (Gates Jr. and McKay).
The Harlem Renaissance was the period of time between the end of World War I and the middle 1930s depression. Also called the New Negro Renaissance, it was a period in history when talented African American writers produced volumes of literary works. This period was characterized by many important themes. The first theme was migration; many African Americans migrated to large cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Harlem. The Harlem Renaissance, the literary movement we are discussing was named so because Harlem became heavily populated with African Americans thus becoming the epicenter for this literary and artistic movement (Gates Jr. and McKay).
Another theme of this period was he regeneration of black culture, folk traditions, and character. The prefix re in the word Renaissance means “over again” and the suffix naissance from the Latin root natus and/or nation, means “birth”. Put together, these words create meaning for the literary movement of this period. It alludes to a rebirth of the past, as well as an establishment of a collective African American literary movement that stimulated a new confidence and racial pride in the talented artists of this period (Gates Jr. and McKay).
Scholars have defined three distinct phases of the Harlem Renaissance. The first phase was from 1917 to 1923; white bohemian writers were politically radical and were intrigued by the struggle of the African American artists overshadowed black writers. The second phase lasted until 1926, it was the period when the Civil Rights establishment of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and the National Urban League (NUL) through the concerted efforts of black civil rights leaders and wealthy white patrons occurred. The third and most definitive phase, ending around 1934, was the pinnacle of the three phases. It was the period dominated by the African American artists themselves (Bodenner).
There were many talented writers during the Harlem Renaissance. The most memorable figures will be discussed here, even though there are many more that attributed to the artistic and literary movement of this time. Sterling Brown lived from 1901 to 1989. He was a poet, critic, folklorist, scholar, and a teacher. He is best known for his collection of poems on life in the rural south entitled Southern Road. Countee Porter Cullen lived from 1903 to 1946. He was a poet during the Renaissance. In 1925, he received the Witter Bynner Poetry Prize, in 1926, he received the Harmon Foundation Gold Medal award, and in 1928, he was the first...