The Harlem Renaissance was a significant movement during the 1920s where African Americans came together and created art and literature unique to their race, influencing thousands of blacks to stand up together in a white dominant culture. Many talents were discovered such as painting, singing, and music. People started to recognize their true identity. Through these arts and literature African Americans were able to establishing organizations that worked to gain more recognition and rights for African Americans. Musicians during this time period created a different style and movement that simply surprised Americans.
Musicians such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong inspired people all around the country. The Renaissance created hope for African Americans that they had finally found a spot in society. Harlem was not always a large black community. The 1900’s was the first time African Americans were sighted living in Harlem. Many people did not allow many blacks to move in, but eventually they gave in. More African Americans started moving to Harlem when there was a sharp decline in real estate values around 1905 and it became one of the largest black communities in the United States. Harlem became very populated with African Americans even though this is not what the caucasians wanted.
Racism was still very popular in the south even though it was stopped sixty year prior. Harlem was known as the place to go to for blacks during the time period. African Americans were not taken seriously or recognized in work and culture. It was hard for them to get a job, and many Americans were still racist against African Americans. Also, the lack of wealth resulting from slavery made it necessary for most blacks to live in poor neighborhoods.
Harlem was central to the development, but it wasn’t the only place this was occurring in. The Modern Negro Development spread all over the United States, including the Caribbean. Harlem was becoming the artistic capital of America for african americans. It contained the framework to create and reinforce the artistic expressions. Harlem was a quickly developing city, but its residents lived on the edge of poverty encountering wrongdoings and obligations. The issue was that skilled individuals relocated to the north to live a better life. Although this was occurring, Harlem continued to resolve their problems and fulfill their dreams of being treated equally.
In the novel “The New Negro” by Alain Locke it says “Take Harlem as an instance of this. Here in Manhattan is not nearly the largest Negro community in the world, but the first concentration of history of so many diverse elements in the negro life. It has attracted the African, the West Indian, and the Negro American; has bought together the negroes of the North and the South; the man from the city, the many from the town and village; the peasant, the student, the businessman, the professional man, artist, poet, musician, adventurer and worker, preacher and criminal, exploiter and social outcast. Each group has come with its own separate motives and for its own special ends, but their greatest experience has been the finding of one another. Proscription and prejudice have thrown these dissimilar elements into a common area of contract and interaction.
” (Locke 6) This statement shows us that many people from around the world that felt discriminated against felt at home when in Harlem. They all could relate from some artistic point of view and felt relieved when they found others that were just as passionate for the same things they were.The Harlem Renaissance was a literary movement that later influenced all African American creative arts.
The artists aimed to show the African American experience and believed in racial equality, however, they had no common artistic style, political or social beliefs. In the Encyclopedia Of The Harlem Renaissance by Aberjhani and Sandra West it is stated that “Harlem is the centerpiece of social, intellectual, and cultural change in black american life. Racial prejudice, of course remained the reality that shaped the lives of most blacks, but the new century took on the quickening pace of modern life, blacks were able to envision themselves, and their predicament through a complicated, nuanced lens.” (West 12) Louis Armstrong influenced many lives all over the country. He composed novels, short stories, and plays.
He is also known for using jazz to influence his writing. His work gave us a colorful insight on african american life during the 1920’s. His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of African Americans in America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself. Bessie Smith is known to be one of the most Blue singers during this era. She recorded 160 songs in just 10 years. Over time she became the highest paid African American entertainer.
She later inspired many others to create music and perform in theaters. Not only did she contribute to changing the discrimination to blacks as a whole but she showed that women should also be just as superior as men.In 1910 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People launched its magazine called The Crisis. It was founded by W.
E.B Dubois. The Crisis addressed every facet of life for blacks in America. They devoted special issues to such topics as women’s suffrage, education, children, labor, homes, vacations, and the war. The magazine actively promoted the arts as well as literature.
The authors who published the magazine consist of Jessie Fauset who became the magazine’s literary editor in 1919, William Stanley Braithwaite, Charles Chesnutt, Countee Cullen, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Angelina W. Grimke, Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, Alain Locke, Arthur Schomburg, Jean Toomer, and Walter White