The Harlem Renaissance

In the early 1900s, particularly in the 20s and early 30s, African American literature, art, music, and dance began to flourish in Harlem, a section of New York City. Variously known as the New Negro movement, the New Negro Renaissance, and the Negro Renaissance, the movement emerged toward the end of World War I in 1918. The Harlem Renaissance marked the first time that mainstream publishers and critics took African American literature seriously and that African American literature and arts attracted significant attention from the nation as a whole. Although it was primarily a literary movement, it was closely related to developments in African American music, theater, art, and politics The Harlem Renaissance seemed to be the best of times for America, during which whites and African Americans began to mix and gain a better understanding of one another. Harlem became the epicenter of music, art, and literature. This was the place from which acclaimed writers of the period started their careers. (Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, etc.) Blues and jazz were the prominent styles of music heard throughout the community, made notable by artists such as Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington, and could almost always be heard in social bars known as speakeasies. “No common literary style or political ideas defined the Harlem Renaissance. What united participants was their sense of taking part in a common goal and their commitment to giving artistic expression to the African American experience.” (Harlem Renaissance Review)
African Americans were able to find sanctuary in the North, having to face much less racism and abuse than those who remained in the South. Many were now able to hold decent jobs with good pay, as opposed to the labor they were forced to do previously. They held an intense yearning for equality. However, they still faced many challenges. Despite protest and some progress, racism still separated Americans in every…


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