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The Harlem Renaissance: Creation Of A New Nation

1708 words - 7 pages

The Harlem Renaissance created a new racial identity for African-Americans living in the United States, after the First World War. This new racial identity caused the African-Americans to become a nation within the United States. A nation is defined as a group of people that share common language, ethnicity, history, and culture. A nation of people may or may not have sovereignty. Harlem, a neighbourhood in Manhattan, New York City, emerged as the “race capital”1 for African-Americans living in the Northern states. Many African-Americans migrated from the Southern states to the North because of an influx of available jobs after World War I. Influential writer James Weldon Johnson described Harlem as “being taken without violence.”2 The borough was flooded with Southern African-Americans looking for work. They were apt to work in the factories, and would rather that, than work in the Mississippi Valley on cotton farms.3 As the economy began to prosper a distinct African-American middle class began to emerge. This was mainly due to an increase in jobs and education. The increase in education and the emergence of a middle-class began to bring intellectuals to the forefront of the African-American nation. Influential African-American writers, artists, and politicians began to emerge in their respective communities. Harlem became the hub of a social revolution. The African-American culture began to spread. Art, novels, and poems became centers of the African-American community. The white Americans began to notice and acknowledge, these impressive works of art. Jazz music, or the blues, became a worldwide-recognized American music style. The Harlem Renaissance also led to a large change in many political disputes led by leaders such a W.E.B DuBois. These leaders used the Harlem Renaissance as a starting point for equality, as the African-American way of life became accepted. The race-spirit became renewed and rejuvenated4. The significance of the Harlem Renaissance was that a new African-American identity was established. They were no longer slaves or a lower class, but a nation that had artists, intellects, and it’s own culture.
The history and ethnicity of most of the African-Americans living in the United States is similar. Centuries before the Harlem Renaissance, English merchants had gone to the African continent and took prisoner many Africans to be used as slaves in English colonies. The Natives living near the English colonies had not been useful as slaves because they knew the area to well and could easily escape. The African prisoners were taken either to Virginia to work on cotton or tobacco plantations, or to the Caribbean to work on sugar plantations. Many of the Carribean slaves were moved to the United States after the collapse of the sugar industry. After the Emancipation Proclamation, which set the slaves free, many African-Americans had a difficult time assimilating into white American society. There was still a lot of prejudice...

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