Take life by the hand and Dance!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

American Lit. Assignment two: The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance is a time when African-Americans broke out of their shell and started to express their art, music, literature, and dance skills. During the Harlem Renaissance, African-Americans moved their way up to the North from the south. This was called the "Great Migration". "They were looking for better jobs, and most of all, a better life. There was a very large selection of jobs in the North, thanks to Warld War 1. A lot of men had to go to war leaving a lot of labor to be done in the North" (The African-American Mosaic). African-Americans were even sometimes paid to travel up to the North because some railroad companies were so desperate for employees.

The Black Christ

By: Countee Cullen

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind, And did He stoop to quibble could tell why The little buried mole continues blind, Why flesh that mirrors Him must someday die, Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus To struggle up a never-ending stair. Inscrutable His ways are, and immune To catechism by a mind too strewn With petty cares to slightly understand What awful brains compels His awful hand. Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

Another famous author that was a part of the Harlem Renaissance was a man named Countee Cullen. He was born in New York, and was a major effect on the social reality of African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Countee was a poet who was famous for his volume of poems written in 1925 entitled "color"(Countee Cullen). Another famous poem he wrote was called "The Black Christ" which was written in 1929. The tone of his poem is somewhat humurous. He explains all the wrong and harsh things God does to humans and animals. He uses imagery such as "The little buried mole continues blind" but at the end of the poem, he says "Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing!" which means, to me, that God made a poet black. Which to him is marvelous because black poets, during that time, weren't welcomed by everyone to the society. The Harlem renaissance was a time when African-Americans broke out of their shell and started to express their art, music, literature, and dance skills.

Although, literature and poetry aren't the only things that were a major part of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920's. Music brought along the rythm and movement that people of that time had never seen or even heard before. "A musician named Duke Ellington, was known as a "founding father" of jazz music. He had started to play the piano when he was only seven, and had been in love with music since. He was more interested in composing music in an orchestra".(Edward "Duke" Ellington). But by 1923, he was involved in his own band, called The Washingtonians. Duke had a sophisticated way of playing his music so that the entire audience knew his exact emotion. This had an enormous effect on the Africa-Americans of the 1920's.

Another Harlem Renaissance "hero" is an artist named Aaron Douglass. Aaron is known to most people as the artist who defined the "New Negro" Philosophy with his art work. He painted murals for buildings, and pictures for African-American Books, and furthermore, founded the Art Department of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. And also taught there for 29 years as well. His painting inspired other African-Americans to speak their minds. This painting and most of his other work was an oil painting. This painting, as you can see, is the slaves being brought into slavery. This image shows the slave ships coming in to africa taking them all away in chains, before they had the great migration to the north and slavery was abolished. He Painted this image to show people just a small segmant of what they went through beforre the Harlem Renaissance began. He, as well, had an enormous effect on the harlem renaissance.

In conclusion, my overall thoughts of the Harlem Renaissance has definetly taught me the aftermath of the slavery time period. I learned what happened to the African-americans during the great depression and the risks they took to come up to the North during the Great Migration. I liked the different people that had the most effect on the other African- Americans and the people who truely defined "New-Negro".


  1. Author Unknown. "The African-American Mosaic." The library of congress and resource guide for the study of Black history and culture. January 11, 2006. (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam011.html).
  2. Author Unknown. "Countee Cullen (1903-1946)." Authors Calender. January 11, 2006. (http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/ccullen.htm).
  3. Tucker, Mark. "Duke Ellington." The Red Hot Jazz Archive. January 12, 2006.


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