The Harlem Renaissance marks a phase in the black American civilization, where the black race coined a significant identity in the pursuit of self-emancipation. The events cascading this pertinent era is reminiscent of the Negro movement in the City of New York. The period tells of a time laden with turmoil amid a major initial world war. The early 1920s and 30s saw the outburst of civility and the demand for equal rights from the origin of races. Perhaps the cornerstone of this movement revolved around the great migration of African Americans to the urban areas (North) from their rural confines (South). This influx to New York City enhanced the literacy levels of the previously undermined African American community (1). The results of an educated lot triggers Huggin’s opinion on education as a medium of self-identification (1). National organizations and conventions sprouted with a common desire to see a better African American community. The agendas of the day focused on issues of identity creation, socioeconomic prospects essentially summed as developing the “black race pride.” Interestingly, the black expatriates from as far as the Caribbean and Africa alike gallivanted the expanses and metro poles like New York City and Paris (2). Their chief agenda was the Negro Renaissance. The present day America and the socio-political processes derive a strong allegiance to this pertinent period. Not left behind were the profundities of literary works.
Harlem through the History of American people became a den of migrant population from all over the country. The major people who merged at the town off New York City included workers from the south. A group of educated class also settled at the place introducing a new culture. The growing Negro middle class became a common wave that swept the entire region. The abandoned locality derived a new meaning. The common inhabitants of the place comprised a greater percentage of African Americans. This began as early as the early 1900 spreading through to 1910 and 1920s. The first world war of 1914 and 1918 attracted more migrants to the region. The war had a significant contribution to the influx and the renaissance. The migration of laborers from Europe had ceased. The companies in the region faced an acute shortage of skilled labor. An incredible demand for unskilled labor emanated in the region. This necessitated the migration of African American peasants to the great cities like New York, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.
The race scenario still prevailed amidst a rise in the living standards of the African American. The popularity of the Negro culture did not stop the Caucasian segregation and racist feelings. The segregated outlet and stores still stood tall and the Negro community still held on to their segregated neighborhoods. End of the First World War became a breaking straw for many African American soldiers. They had fought for the sovereignty of American and its interests in segregated units. Examples of such units include Hell fighters from Harlem. Their homecoming was a shocking ordeal. Many citizens did not approve of their accomplishments. They became agitated and began rioting for the equality of race. The red summer of 1919 got an imprint in History as a period of numerous riots revolving around equal identity and acceptance. Race uprisings in Harlem and the neighborhoods occasioned a period of unrest in the history of the American people. The dominant issues that cropped up at this critical phase of the American Revolution dwelt on competition for jobs, housing skirmishes, and social territory tensions. These elements of oppositions and revolts took centre stage between the elite and the normal families in the region.
The first stage of the renaissance began in late 1910s. This onset period was a commemorative moment to start coining a common identity. Art became a concrete technique of expressing beauty and relics of the newly formed culture. Premieres erupted to spearhead the notion and playwrights like Ridgeley Torrance featured in several episodes of the African American history. The dominant themes of this critical time reflected on profound yearnings and complexities of human emotions. The styles of delivery of these art forms rejected the common blackface stereotypes of the Caucasian prejudice and emphasized on beauty as a critical essence of the black race and every other race. The year 1919 witnessed another landmark in the corpus of American history. A famous poet, Claude McKay produced and published a major work in the form of a sonnet called “If we must die.” The poem did not connote any racial innuendos (3). This fact made the poem a best seller and a major champion for equality through defiance. The major addresses revolved around instances of countrywide riots and deliberate lynching in the region. Massacres became a common instance as radicals attempted to eradicate the black community. Other works also emerged along this time to coexist within the peripheries of African American cultures and equality in America.
In conclusion, the Harlem Renaissance became a successful strategy to reveal the black experience. The successful identity strand fused into American history and redefined a new ground of appreciative culture. The cultural and sociological legacies established a new outlook within American societies. The migrations from the southern American states to the North were a landmark occurrence in the history of America and slavery. The nuances of the period imbricate to establish a great Lutheran movement of 1950s and 1960s. The Harlem legacy and the aftermath of a reborn identity catapulted the emerging generations of African American writers. Harlem became a haven of cultural explosion and profound yearning. Literary writers like Langston Hughes and Claude McKay went into a frenzy of portraying the contemporary African American, the emotions, yearnings, as well as appreciative aspect (3).
The period bears the christening “artistic movement” because of the maturity and the creativity it endowed on black artists. The Harlem contemporary writers had better access to education and used art to express their human allures and pledge for equality. Many black works were published as the global arena took interest in the African culture reborn. America became a den of new fusion of cultures arising from the varied African origins like Jazz poetry and soft lyrical poems “Blues”. These artistic productions still find relish in the modern day arena. The corpus of American history consists of this remarkable period. The contemporary American society has witnessed an array of remarkable changes that saw the first African American president be re-elected to the oval office.
Baker, H. A. Modernism, and the Harlem Renaissance. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 110.
Galens, D. Literary movements for students: Presenting analysis, context, and criticism on literary movements. Detroit: Gale.(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 218.
Huggins, N. I., & Rampersad, A. Harlem Renaissance. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 194.