anges. He grew up without a stable
anges. It was a time for expressingthe African-American culture.
Many famous people began their writing or gained theirrecognition during this time. The Harlem Renaissance took place during the 1920s and1930s. Many things came about during the Harlem Renaissance; things such as jazz andblues, poetry, dance, and musical theater. The African-American way of life became the”thing.” Many white people came to discover this newest art, dancing, music, andliterature.
The Great Migration of African-American people from the rural South to theNorth, and many into Harlem was the cause of this phenomenon. Harlem was originally aDutch settlement. 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 was LangstonHughes. Hughes was born in 1902 with the name James Langston Hughes, and died in1967. He lived most of his adult life in Harlem.
He grew up without a stable familyenvironment. His father moved to Mexico, and he never really saw much of him. Hugheswas often referred to as “Harlems poet” (Haskins 174). Hughes had and still has a greatinfluence on poetry.Hughes poetry was a reflection of the African-American culture and Harlem. Hewrote many poems, and continued to write even after the Harlem Renaissance. He lovedHarlem that was his home.
He watched it decline with the onset of the Great Depression.He saw Harlem 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 Depression uponAfrican-Americans, “The depression brought everyone down a peg or two.
And theNegro had but a few pegs to fall” (Haskins 174). Langston Hughes valued the teaching ofchildren. Many of his poems are childrens poems. He often traveled to schools and readhis poetry.
His first published works were in a childrens magazine during the 1920s. Hepublished a book of ABCs called The Sweet and Sour Animal Book. He wanted toinspire the youth, and make them feel good about themselves. He did not only writepoetry, but that is what he 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 role model. Ipersonally love his poetry. It describes these problems within our society that still haveyet to be resolved. It opens the readers eyes to the many disadvantages that many peoplehave suffered through and are still trying to overcome.Hughes writes about how the African-American people have been all over theworld. In “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” he talks about them bathing in the Euphrates,building huts by the Congo, and singing of the Mississippi.
I think that this poem isshowing how these people are everywhere. That in America we act as if they aresubordinate, but he is saying to the white people, look at all my race has accomplished.”We” built the pyramids, and we have been around as long as these rivers. This is apositive poem. It does not talk directly about racism nor puts down the white race forbeing prejudiced (Lauter 1612-13). In the poem, “I, Too” he describes how he is also partof what America is. Even if he is sent to eat in the kitchen, he is as much a part as anyoneelse.
One day he will not be made to hide and eat in the kitchen. One day people will seethat African-Americans are beautiful people, and will be ashamed of how they weretreated. This poem gives hope to the black community. It makes them yearn for the daywhen equality will come and racism will end.
Too bad that the day has still not yet comein this century (Lauter 1618). In his poem, “Harlem” this is addressed. He wonders whathappens to dreams that are deferred. How long must one still dream of something thatseems like it will never come. The African-American people have been waiting to be seenas equal for many years, yet it still seems so out of reach.
His poetry seems to address thisover and over again (Lauter 1619). In “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” ayoung Negro poet said, “I want to be a poet-not a Negro poet” (Lauter 1629). It alsodescribes how many middle class blacks tried to be more like a “white” person. Todisown their heritage in a way and become part of white America. He talks about howthey should learn to appreciate their diversity and their culture.
The blacks should beproud of their individuality. He thinks that many blacks are taught by white teachers, seewhite books and pictures, white papers, and then want to be what they are seeing. “Whyshould I want to be white? I am a Negro-and beautiful” (Lauter 1632).African-Americans must be themselves and build a foundation for the future blacks tostand upon so they can finally be “free within themselves” (Lauter 1632). He still carriesthe hope that one day his people will become equal, and that they can be appreciated forall that they have done for America (Lauter 1629-32).
James Langston Hughes will always be known as a great poet who did so much tomake his race move toward equality. He wrote many inspirational poems. He wanted toreach a younger generation and show them that they can be successful. He wanted thechildren to be proud of who they are, and to excel in literature. He was part of somethinggreat.
That something great was the Harlem Renaissance. It was a time of change. Atime of happiness for the most part. A time when many people realized that there weremany talented African-Americans.
A time for new things and a new way of doing things.Jazz and Blues became popular. White people came to Harlem to see how blacks danced,and what music they listened to. Harlem became a very “hip” place. The arts flourishedall around 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 of our musictoday. Many authors today were inspired by those of the Harlem Renaissance. It was agreat time for the African- American community, but at the same time it caused fightingbetween the middle class and poorer blacks. The feeling of inequality still existed, but atleast African-Americans were finally getting some recognition for some of the wonderfulaccomplishments that they have made.
Works CitedHaskins, Jim. The Harlem Renaissance. Brookfield, Conn: Millbrook Press, 1996.Hughes, Langston. “Harlem.
” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 3rd ed. Ed.Paul Lauter. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.
1619.Hughes, Langston. “I, Too.” Lauter 1618.Hughes, Langston.
“The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” Lauter 1629-32.Hughes, Langston. “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Lauter 1612-13.