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The Harlem Renaissance Essay

1442 words - 6 pages

During the 20th century a unique awakening of mind and spirit, of race consciousness, and

artistic advancement emerged within the African American community in New York

City. This emergence has brought about the greatest artistic movement

in African American history.


After the failure of the Reconstruction period the Negro was not considered either a

person or an America. The idea that a Negro was an American was totally unacceptable to

the white ruling class. The acceptance of lynching and denied voting rights and equal

protection under the law, and equal education and housing in Southern states affirmed

their non- personhood in America. During the 20th century a new generation of Blacks,

looking back on the enslavement of their parents and grandparents, wanted more. They

wanted racial equality , they wanted equal justice, they wanted to change the bad

perception of Black people and their culture in America. How could this be done, what

could they do to change things.?

World War I , the immigration law of 1921, the Mississippi River flooding of

1927 and other factors led to the Great Migration northward. This allowed thousands of

Negroes to finally leave the backward Southern states and move to the progressive .

North. Many migrated to New York City and ended up in Harlem. Harlem was

essentially a Jewish neighborhood , until the Black community settled in. Harlem, where

Blacks eventually became the majority. In Harlem a new black cultural identity began to

emerged. It came forth through social, religious, civic and cultural organizations,also

through newspapers and journals devoted to black interest. Hearing the words of black

leaders such as Marcus Garvey, head of the UNIA, and W.E.B. Du Bois, member of the

NAACP,


Civil Right organizations emerged at this time, but were not the organizations to

spring forth cultural awearness and pride, it also came from the music, the literature, and

the arts. African Americans throughout the United States and abroad became part of the movement in Harlem.

.
New forms of blues, jazz, and ragtime flourished during this time. The

development of the phonograph, radio, and works by Scott Joplin, and Eubie

Blake became the most popular music in Harlem and in America. This new sound

influenced the more conservative sounds of European and folk music. It also brought

forth black Broadway musicals beginning with Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle’s musical

“Shuffle Along” in 1921.By 1930, this music brought forth such musical legends as

Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, from New Orleans, and the voice of Billie

Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald made the music more well known.

Poets, playwrights, novelists and artists came from all over the United States

to Harlem , to share their thoughts, their stories of the past, and art...

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