Concise Analysis of the Significance of Harlem Renaissance Research Paper

Pages: 4 (1299 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] A second significant aspect of the Harlem Renaissance was its effective capturing of African-Americans' true voice instead of a white representation of them as a subjugated community. African-Americans argued for their right to be recognized and respected as individuals and, specifically, unique artists. This was a concern the renaissance supported passionately, as they believed cultural harmony was the boulevard to real equality of blacks (Bodenner, 2006).

The superior artwork that emerged from Harlem led to its being touted as the global "Negro capital". Nightlife and Jazz music became their most famous art forms. With an increase in the number of individuals populating Harlem, its artistic talent and fame increased, leading to a successive growth in African-Americans' hope for their future. In spite of their remarkable growth, disagreements persisted with regard to how they would change the long-held stereotypes regarding African-Americans in the minds of white American society. Some advocated an integration of art works while others wished to ensure their art was perceived as unique (Gifford, 1999).

The Renaissance proved to be a powerful force in creating the succeeding generation of scholars and artists. For example, the seventies witnessed black literature being recognized as an independent literary genre, with African-American writers' works gaining the respect of the white population. Black authors like The Color Purple's Alicia Walker, Beloved's Toni Morrison, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' Maya Angelou were regarded as the top American writers (Gates, 2002). The emergence of a bourgeois African-American population segment ensured their works became increasingly less reliant on white readers. Moreover, African-American artistic growth was forcefully propelled by other mainstream African-American forces like Oprah Winfrey (Gates, 2002). This wasn't all; the music business progressed from popular blues and jazz to rock 'n' roll (which may be traced back to Southern US) that subsequently took over the mainstream music industry. Numerous current music genres like R&B, hip hop and rap were invented by African-Americans, whose musical influence has undeniably extended across the globe, on account of the 1920s' Harlem Renaissance (Bodenner, 2006).

In spite of the Renaissance's superior influence and accomplishments, a key African-American argument which remained to be addressed involves whether or not black and white culture should be integrated. Some argued that a unique presentation was imperative to maintaining African-Americans' distinctive cultural heritage and authentically capturing their everyday experiences, whilst others felt they were Black as well as American and hence, integrating into mainstream culture was vital to demonstrating their positive attitude and cooperation on the subject of sorting out racial disparities. The latter wished to ensure that in the struggle against racial discrimination, blacks themselves do not turn into racists (Gates, 2002).

To sum up, the 1920s' Harlem Renaissance was a black artist-led cultural movement whose chief aim was combating and eliminating the social injustices (e.g., stereotyping and discrimination) encountered by African-Americans across the US, using art forms such as poetry, painting, music, and dances. It enjoyed great popularity across the nation and revolutionized African-Americans' self-perception as well as others' views of black Americans. Additionally, the renaissance ensured tremendous progress was made by African-Americans in terms of global recognition; African-American musicians enjoyed instant and maximum recognition, particularly in the genres of Hip Hop, Rap, and R&B, which they continue to dominate to this day. Despite the enormous debate regarding how the movement was to be carried out (i.e., cultural separation versus integration), this failed to impede the renaissance's enormous influence on others' perceptions of African-Americans.

References

Bodenner, Chris 2006. Harlem Renaissance. Issues & Controversies in American History. InfoBase Publishing. Web. 6 Feb. 2013. http://icah.infobaselearning.com/icahfullarticle.aspx?ID=107275.

Gates, Henry L. (2002). The Classic Slave Narratives. New York: Signet Classics.

Gifford, N. (1999). The Harlem Renaissance: a unit of study for grades 9-12. Los Angeles, CA: National Center for History in the Schools, University of California, Los… [END OF PREVIEW]

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