Harlem Renaissance Was a Noteworthy Era in Essay

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Harlem Renaissance was a noteworthy era in human history that was triggered immediately after the upheaval of World War 1. It is largely characterized as a period in which African-Americans searched for greater self-actualization, and struggled for racial equality in an America drowned in ethnic bias. The Black community deemed it absolutely necessary to realize their dreams of a world with no prejudice and equitable opportunities in all walks of life. Political and economic movements reigned supreme and many iconic personalities lent their philosophies to the cause of Black Pride. As the Black community resorted to articulating their tumultuous views through art and literature, many specific ideologies sprang up through names such as W.E.B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson. The result was an aesthetic tide of expression that changed the face of America for all times to come. Many instances of heart wrenching tales and poems can be found, that reflect the epoch of the Civil Rights Movement, and challenged the mindset of a racially rigid America of the 1920s. (Gifford)

W.E.B. Du Bois is specifically responsible for presenting a stimulating ideology in the form of "double consciousness." He described it as the condition whereby a person is trapped between a self-image as an American as well as a person of African descent. He emphasized on this notion by stating that there is a constant nagging sense of "two-ness" in the Black community. People find themselves in a brutal tug of war of differing values, belief systems and identities. Consequently, each Negro was described as having conflicting perceptions of themselves, which would undermine their sense of esteem. During the Harlem Renaissance, all of this began to change. (McWhorter)

One particular contributor to this long-awaited movement was Langston Hughes. Hughes was a famous poet and author who came to be known for his endless literary donations towards the black community in America. He established his threshold as a credible poet and author in 1926 and played a tremendous role in creating Negro solidarity during the era more famously referred to as 'The Harlem Renaissance.
' His portrayals of his community were true to their origin as well as incredibly positive: he wanted his readers to recognize and respect the black community for their colorful way of life and adherence to their values. (Poets.org: From The Academy of American Poets) Amongst his many iconic works is the simple yet thought-provoking poem titled, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers.' In this insightful poem he has eloquently depicted the depth of the Black heritage, by likening it to the world's oldest rivers.

It is in essence, a simple poem to understand. In the first stanza Hughes compares rivers to the bloodstream, thereby surreptitiously likening the most ancient rivers to his community and bloodline. He insinuates that his pedigree is as one with nature as streams of canals running their course through the Earth. He then moves on to declare, "My soul has grown deep like the rivers." This particular line is perhaps the crux of his subtle message. He explains that rivers thrive in their most organic state and tend to grow deeper with time without ever coming to a halt. And he metaphorically describes the condition of his own soul by drawing this artistic comparison. He entails that his own soul finds harmony with the balance of nature as well, and is nourished by a wisdom acquired through the ages. In the subsequent lines of the poem, he talks about many rivers of the world with an infectious interpersonal tone. He basically conveys the message, that regardless of the different locations of the rivers, they are all one and the same and are true to their derivation. This thought only goes on to vindicate his belief in the natural balance of all things and his (or his community's) place in the midst of a continuous struggle for self-identification.

The poet's sense of 'double-consciousness' seeps through the poem rather evidently. He seems to be trying to find his identity….....

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