Harlem Renaissance by Nathan Irvin Huggins

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Book Review of The Harlem Renaissance


Antonio Ragland


In the book entitled "Harlem Renaissance" by Nathan Irvin Huggins a story is told about the time period before World War I and the following years in which a "Black Metropolis" was created unlike the world had ever seen. It was the largest and by far the most important black community in the world. It brought together black intellectuals from all over the world to this new "Black Mecca" with dreams of prosperity and change. Their common goal was the prosperity of the New Negro as Alain Locke called them. This New Negro was one that was cultured, educated, artistic, and would bring prosperity to the African-American. All these were the promises of the Harlem Renaissance.
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Huggins writes of the time Hughes wrote a poem with a very radical message that his benefactor did not like, which lead him to question where this relationship would take his work. Huggins wrote "When Hughes showed his patron this poem, He knew she did not like it. "Its not you ..........It's a powerful poem but its not you" Who was he? Wasn't that the problem? Who was to decide? Who was to know?" (135). This quote proves that these white benefactors gave their opinion and influenced black artist's works.

One of the early contributors of white interest in black intellectuals was a man by the name of Carl Van Vechten. He counted numerous black artists as his friends. He was responsible for popularizing "Black Art." He through his connections allowed people like Langston Hughes to enter the white mainstream. He also cultivated and encouraged numerous other young artists and similarly launched numerous careers. It was his fascination with the exotic and primitive as Huggins put it that sparked his slumming trips uptown into Harlem. That incredible rush he felt allowed him to bring many prominent white patrons back to Harlem. His popularization began the golden era called the Harlem Renaissance. Huggins called him "The undisputed Prince of Harlem."

Huggins also mentions that the fact that there were so many different types of Afro-Americans in Harlem it prevented the unification of a desired voting block. Huggins points out that there was in-race racism between
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