Essay on The Poetry of Langston Hughes During the Harlem Renaissance

1694 Words 7 Pages
I. Introduction: The Harlem Renaissance

The village of Harlem, New York was originally established by Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1658. It was named after a Dutch city, “Nieuw Harlem. It sits on a 5.5 square mile area of Manhattan north of 96th Street. The 1830s saw the abandonment of Harlem due to the fact that the farmlands failed to produce. The economic recovery in Harlem began in 1837. It boasted prosperous, fashionable neighborhoods that offered a diverse, rich background provided by several institutions and facilities of the day.
The anticipated plan for Harlem was for it to be known as the “place to be”, but due to the real estate market failure in 1904/1905, white-owned properties were rented to African Americans.
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The oppositions between the Whites and Blacks were apparent in the music and literature of the time. The majority of the pieces emphasized the “two-ness” of each entity which presented a double-consciousness (phrase coined by W.E.B. Dubois). However, the Harlem Renaissance gave birth to the African-American consciousness which paved the way for many African Americans to embrace and declare its values. The Harlem Renaissance is remembered through a plethora of virtual musical treasures and literature collections rather than the artistic movement it was.

II. Langston Hughes

“I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older
Than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” “I’ve Known Rivers”-Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes, (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was born in Joplin, Missouri, to James Nathaniel and Caroline Hughes in 1902. Hughes’ parents were of mixed-race, and Langston Hughes was of African American, European American and Native American descent. Hughes' father left his family and later divorced Carrie using it as a way to escape the unbearable racism in America. After his parents’ separation, his mother travelled in
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