Essay on Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance is a revival movement of African-American culture in the Interwar period. Its birthplace and home are the neighborhood of Harlem, in New York. This excitement extends over many areas of creativity, the Arts as photography, music, or painting, but it is mainly the literature that is considered the most remarkable feature of the development.
Supported by patrons and a generation of talented writers, the Harlem Renaissance marked a major turning point in black American literature, which knew some recognition and greater distribution outside the U.S. black elite.
It is difficult to give a precise date for the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance. It is admitted that it occurred in the period between the wars, that is to say, it corresponds to the years 1920 and 1930.
Some argue that the crisis of 1929 breaks the momentum of the Harlem Renaissance; others extend it to the entry into the war of the United States (1941).
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Since the abolition of slavery in 1865, African Americans faced segregation. Although they have obtained the right to vote, African-Americans were in fact excluded from citizenship in the South of the country: several states impose literacy tests or criteria for fortune to exclude them from suffrage. Black people faced lynchings, which intensified in the 1890s, faced discrimination and the mechanization of agriculture, thousands of African-Americans leave the rural South to settle in the industrial cities of the Midwest and Northeast.
In the 1920s, the U.S. economy was booming, but inequalities were important, and blacks were among the poorest. Only a few of them managed to integrate the middle and upper classes of American society.
The movement of the Harlem Renaissance sought to empower African Americans, but it did not face a total cultural vacuum: a black American literature for American existed since the independence with writers such as Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) or Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). The stories of slaves, abolitionists, and historical essays, articles and poems were the black literature of XIXth century. However, with the Harlem Renaissance, the works were increasing in all areas, they diversified, and spread more widely.
Harlem became the famous center of this new dynamism, so we use the term “Harlem Renaissance,” in reference to the renaissance of Irish literature of the XIXth century.
New York attracted many black Americans at the turn of the century. They faced daily racism and were rejected by the center white. They gather in Harlem in northern Manhattan. In the first decades of the XXth century, new artists and African-American intellectuals flocked to the Big Apple and most settled or working in Harlem activist Marcus Garvey in 1918, the musician Duke Ellington in 1923 or Louis Armstrong in 1924-1925. Harlem became a center of artistic creation with the installation of major painters, sculptors (Richmond Bartholomew 1929) and photographers (James Van Der Zee 1932).
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