The Harlem Renaissance, also known as “The New Negro Movement” was a cultural movement that spanned the1920’s. The Harlem Renaissance was a defining moment in African American literature causing an outburst of creative activity in black writers and artists in New York City. The Harlem Renaissance was influenced by the migration of African Americans from the South seeking better opportunities for themselves.
A black man named Charles Spurgeon Johnson who was the editor for the National Urban League magazine encouraged and supported black writers and artists who were part of the Harlem Renaissance. Charles’ magazine later became the leading voice of black culture. Four famous writers and poets of the Harlem Renaissance are; Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, and Arnaud Bontemps.
Langston Hughes is one of the most famous poets of the Harlem Renaissance. He was born in Mississippi in 1902 and later moved to Ohio where he attended Central High School. When Hughes graduated high school he went to Mexico to visit his father and while crossing the Mississippi River he was inspired to write “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, which was his first published poem when he was eighteen years old. When Hughes returned to the United States in 1924 the Harlem Renaissance was in “full swing”. In 1925 at the age of twenty-three Hughes received an award for his poem “The Weary Blues”, Hughes was famous for incorporating blues and jazz rhymes into his poetry, which is what he did in his poem “The Weary Blues”. Hughes was at a banquet where he received an award for his poem “The Weary Blues” and was asked by a man named Carl Van Vechten if he had enough poems to make a book. Hughes said yes and Van Vechten promised that he would find Hughes a publisher. Sure enough he did and the book The Weary Blues was published two months later. Some of Hughes poems are; Afro-American, Luani of the Jungles, Danse Africaine, Negro, Cross, I Too Sing America, and so on. Hughes wrote over 300 poems from the beginning of his career until he died of cancer in 1967.
Countee Cullen was another famous poet during the Harlem Renaissance. He was born in New York City on May 30, 1903. Cullen began writing poetry in elementary school and achieved recognition for his work in high school. Cullen’s first published poem “I Have a Rendezvous with Life” was published in 1921 in his high schools’ literary magazine. Cullen graduated high school with honors and went to college at NYU, his poetry started being published in the literary magazines Bookman and Poetry. Cullen graduated from NYU with honors and was then accepted into Harvard University for graduate studies. Cullen rarely used harsh words or humor in his poetry. He mostly wrote about how black and white people were treated in America, asking god why he made him black in his poem “Yet Do I Marvel”. Cullen won second place for his poem “To One Who Said Me Nay” in a competition sponsored by Opportunity magazine. Cullen believed that...