Many famous people began their writingor gained their recognition during this time. The Harlem Renaissance took placeduring the 1920’s and 1930’s. Many things came about during the HarlemRenaissance; things such as jazz and blues, poetry, dance, and musical theater. The African-American way of life became the “thing. ” Many white people cameto discover this newest art, dancing, music, and literature. The Great Migrationof African-American people from the rural South to the North, and many intoHarlem was the cause of this phenomenon.
Harlem was originally a Dutchsettlement. Harlem became one of the largest African- American communities inthe United States, and during the Harlem Renaissance became a center for art andliterature. Many great writers came about during this time, one of which wasLangston Hughes. Hughes was born in 1902 with the name James Langston Hughes,and died in 1967. He lived most of his adult life in Harlem. He grew up withouta stable family environment.
His father moved to Mexico, and he never really sawmuch of him. Hughes was often referred to as “Harlem’s poet” (Haskins174). Hughes had and still has a great influence on poetry. Hughes poetry was areflection of the African-American culture and Harlem. He wrote many poems, andcontinued to write even after the Harlem Renaissance. He loved Harlem that washis home.
He watched it decline with the onset of the Great Depression. He sawHarlem turn into a place to be feared by many. It was a sad and dangerous placeto be, after the depression. Hughes described the impact of the Great Depressionupon African-Americans, “The depression brought everyone down a peg or two. And the Negro had but a few pegs to fall” (Haskins 174). Langston Hughesvalued the teaching of children.
Many of his poems are children’s poems. Heoften traveled to schools and read his poetry. His first published works were ina children’s magazine during the 1920’s. He published a book of ABC’scalled The Sweet and Sour Animal Book.
He wanted to inspire the youth, and makethem feel good about themselves. He did not only write poetry, but that is whathe is famous for. Much of his poetry talks of the hardships, poverty,inequality, etc. of the African-American people. His work has inspired manypeople, and is read by many students and scholars.
He is a great positive rolemodel. I personally love his poetry. It describes these problems within oursociety that still have yet to be resolved. It opens the reader’s eyes to themany disadvantages that many people have suffered through and are still tryingto overcome.
Hughes writes about how the African-American people have been allover the world. In “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” he talks about them bathingin the Euphrates, building huts by the Congo, and singing of the Mississippi. Ithink that this poem is showing how these people are everywhere. That in Americawe act as if they are subordinate, but he is saying to the white people, look atall my race has accomplished. “We” built the pyramids, and we have beenaround as long as these rivers. This is a positive poem.
It does not talkdirectly about racism nor puts down the white race for being prejudiced (Lauter1612-13). In the poem, “I, Too” he describes how he is also part of whatAmerica is. Even if he is sent to eat in the kitchen, he is as much a part asanyone else. One day he will not be made to hide and eat in the kitchen. One daypeople will see that African-Americans are beautiful people, and will be ashamedof how they were treated.
This poem gives hope to the black community. It makesthem yearn for the day when equality will come and racism will end. Too bad thatthe day has still not yet come in this century (Lauter 1618). In his poem,”Harlem” this is addressed. He wonders what happens to dreams that aredeferred.
How long must one still dream of something that seems like it willnever come. The African-American people have been waiting to be seen as equalfor many years, yet it still seems so out of reach. His poetry seems to addressthis over and over again (Lauter 1619). In “The Negro Artist and the RacialMountain,” a young Negro poet said, “I want to be a poet-not a Negro poet”(Lauter 1629). It also describes how many middle class blacks tried to be morelike a “white” person.
To disown their heritage in a way and become part ofwhite America. He talks about how they should learn to appreciate theirdiversity and their culture. The blacks should be proud of their individuality. He thinks that many blacks are taught by white teachers, see white books andpictures, white papers, and then want to be what they are seeing.
“Why shouldI want to be white? I am a Negro-and beautiful” (Lauter 1632). African-Americans must be themselves and build a foundation for the futureblacks to stand upon so they can finally be “free within selves” (Lauter1632). He still carries the hope that one day his people will become equal, andthat they can be appreciated for all that they have done for America (Lauter1629-32). James Langston Hughes will always be known as a great poet who did somuch to make his race move toward equality. He wrote many inspirational poems.
He wanted to reach a younger generation and show them that they can besuccessful. He wanted the children to be proud of who they are, and to excel inliterature. He was part of something great. That something great was the HarlemRenaissance.
It was a time of change. A time of happiness for the most part. Atime when many people realized that there were many talented African-Americans. A time for new things and a new way of doing things. Jazz and Blues becamepopular. White people came to Harlem to see how blacks danced, and what musicthey listened to.
Harlem became a very “hip” place. The arts flourished allaround Harlem. People were having fun. This influenced many people and ways thatstill are around today.
The influence of the music can still be heard in some ofour music today. Many authors today were inspired by those of the HarlemRenaissance. It was a great time for the African- American community, but at thesame time it caused fighting between the middle class and poorer blacks. Thefeeling of inequality still existed, but at least African-Americans were finallygetting some recognition for some of the wonderful accomplishments that theyhave made. BibliographyHaskins, Jim. The Harlem Renaissance.
Brookfield, Conn: Millbrook Press,1996. Hughes, Langston. “Harlem. ” The Heath Anthology of AmericanLiterature. 3rd ed. Ed.
Paul Lauter. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998. 1619. Hughes, Langston. “I, Too.
” Lauter 1618. Hughes, Langston. “TheNegro Artist and the Racial Mountain. ” Lauter 1629-32. Hughes, Langston. “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.
” Lauter 1612-13.