The Harlem Renaissance : An African American Intellectual And Artistic Movement

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The Harlem Renaissance was an African-American intellectual and artistic movement centered in New York City in the late 1920’s and 1930’s (Hutchinson). It was part of the larger "New Negro Movement", which was made possible by the Great Migration – a large exodus of about six million blacks out of the Southeastern United States to the Midwest, Northeast, and West that lasted from about 1915 to 1970 (Gross). The influence of the Harlem Renaissance was widespread and long-lasting, in part, because it inspired and contributed to the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1940’s and 1950’s (Hutchinson) and modern American and international music through jazz and blues genres (Wintz). Out of this milieu came many notable names, but one of the most famous and prolific writers was Langston Hughes, whose works were suffused with a combination of blues-inspired rhythms with African-American speech and recurring themes of hope, violence, the struggle for freedom, and racial identity. Various literary critics have pointed to Hughes’ incorporation of blues and jazz rhythms in his poems. He spoke of the importance of African-American forms of music to his people’s survival, saying “… jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America; … —the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world…” (Hughes, The Negro Artist). Literary critic Lionel Davidas mentions the poem “Fantasy in Purple” as having a series of alliterative consonants b’s and d’s to achieve the sound of
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