by Ayoung Jo
- The word Renaissance means, “rebirth ”. The Harlem Renaissance describes the period in the 1920s, when many African American artists produced many works in a relatively short period of time. This cultural explosion took place in Harlem, New York, and the neighborhood drew many painters, writers, musicians, poets and scholars. Many of them had come from the South, after the civil war, to escape the extreme racism, and to have freedom to express themselves through arts. Having a community of African Americans allowed them to keep and celebrate their cultural identity. Many artists of the time made their name in Harlem Renaissance. Musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith were pioneers in swings and jazz music, developed from the blues and gospel of slaves. Writers like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston promoted the African American musics through their writings. Actors like Josephine Baker and Paul Robertson raised American people’s awareness of the African American culture.
- The Harlem Renaissance was the first time that works of African Americans were significantly recognized. In addition to the prolific works of the artists, it helped to voice the opinions of the African Americans and brought light to important social, racial issues. For example, social leaders like W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington showed their different approaches on how African Americans should demand fair treatments. It also had a very close correlation with the New Negro Movement, which encouraged African Americans, many of whom actually considered themselves as inferior to whites, to take pride in themselves and their culture. Also, through the Harlem Renaissance, more african Americans gained access to higher education, and it paved way for future social movements for the voices of African Americans.
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