It is a revival movement in African American culture at the turn of the century. Especially in the field of art, Blacks broke new ground in history. This movement is the most influential, bloodiest period in African American literature. With literature, music, theater and visual arts, Blacks wanted to reconstruct the “Black” character by removing it from the perspective of white. Although the American Civil War ended in 1865 and slavery was abolished and equality before the law was established, the idea of equality was never accepted, especially in Southern society. Blacks worked for very low wages, were still struggling with a culture of discrimination and lynching as well as poverty. Jobs in the North and more enlightened people compared to the South became a gateway for Blacks. Years of war for their freedom continued with mass migration from south to north known as the “Great Migration” for a better life. Harlem, New York has become the new living space for Blacks. This Renaissance was not limited to Harlem, but attracted a great deal of attention to the talents and intellectuals of the period and became the symbolic capital of this cultural awakening. Harlem Renaissance foundations were shot with Black sociologist WEB Du Bois’s ” The Souls of Black Folk”. Du Bois argued that “Black elites should educate the black people on the path to freedom” and advocated to African-Americans that they would prove their art and equality in this way. In addition to this understanding, Blacks understood the importance of owning their roots, being proud of it, and fighting for equality in every field in politics. Gwendolyn Brooks, a female African-American poet, also believed that education would bring equality. In her poem “We Real Cool”, she conveyed her anger at black children who ran away from school;

The Pool Players.

        Seven at the Golden Shovel.

            We real cool. We  

            Left school. We

            Lurk late. We

            Strike straight. We

            Sing sin. We  

            Thin gin. We

            Jazz June. We  

            Die soon

The Harlem Renaissance featured rich productions, especially in the field of poetry. Their most genuine aim was to reflect their core culture to their art, or rather to look at art from a black perspective. Jazz and Blues have been one of the symbols of this period. Especially the poet Langston Hughes wrote his poems in the rhythm of jazz music.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.


I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”



They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes has mirrored the thoughts of all Blacks with this poem. He stated that America must change in one way or another and that they can no longer accept discrimination. Hughes stated in his article “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”, “We now intend to express the young Black artists we create, our dark-skinned individuals, without fear and shame. We are glad if white people are satisfied. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And also ugly.” We can infer the philosophy of the period with this quote. Despite being a literary movement, the Harlem Renaissance touched all the arts. Although its artists believed in racial pride and equality, they shared no common political philosophy, social belief, artistic style, or aesthetic principle. It was a movement that individuals made without pressure and independently of any manifesto.

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