The Harlem Renaissance And The Civil Rights Movement

Superior Essays
When one is asked of some of the most significant periods of African American history, two spans of time that are always thought of: The Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement. During the Great Migration, Americans moved to New York to seek a better standard of living and relief from the institutionalized racism in the South. The pouring in of black people into Harlem created the Harlem Renaissance. This brought the debate over racial identity and the future of black America to the forefront of the national consciousness. Artists and writers such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston championed the “New Negro,” the African American who took pride in his or her cultural heritage. Historians and literary figures disagree on the …show more content…
The Harlem Renaissance represented the birth of a new beginning of freedom and identity for the black artists. Following the Great Migration, blacks began to form black communities and the level of confidence in themselves and their culture. Blacks became active, known and self-assertive. Through the arts, the idea of a new type of proud, self-accepting Negro was constantly expressed. This is revealed in Zora Neale Hurston’s writing, because she uses Southern vernacular as well as Harlem slang, to the disdain of other African American authors. Dialect like this: “You jes wave dat rake at dis heah yahd, madam…(17), is used by Hurston to celebrate the rural, southern African-American. Rather than focus on the everyday injustices black suffered as a result of racism in American society, she utilized the theme of black folk culture in her works to demonstrate that blacks did, in fact, enjoy their own culture that aptly represented communal life, oral traditions in folk tales, and music. Once the black community accepts themselves, they no longer find themselves inferior to the white community. This will later fuel their desire for civil equality in the …show more content…
The United States began to see the black community as a serious source of literature, art, and especially music. Before now, whites had a virtual monopoly on the arts. In the face of opposition, black artists make literature and art to reflect their feelings of desired freedom. Several themes emerged in an effort to recapture the African American past—its rural southern roots, urban experience, and African heritage. The exploration of black southern heritage was reflected in novels by Zora Neale Hurston. In the Eatonville Anthology, Hurston provides a glimpse into the happenings of a Southern black community. She displays how they differ from the white community in dance. “Among white people the march is as mild as if it had been passed on by Volstead. But it stiff has a kick in Eatonville. Everybody happy, shining eyes, gleaming teeth. Feet dragged 'shhlap, shhlap! to beat out the time” (). Hurston takes on the role of defining parts of black culture on her own terms. The white people came to acknowledge and enjoy the displays of black culture throughout Harlem. The acquisition of cultural equality lead to a desire for political and civil liberties equivalent to those their white counterparts had. This directly

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