In the early 20th century hundreds of thousands of African American migrated from the south into urban areas to have better opportunities and life. Along with the migration of African Americans, the origin and the influence of the Harlem Renaissance blossomed in New York City. The Harlem Renaissance imprinted the African American culture, especially in creative arts such as literacy, musical, theatrical and visual arts. The two-main artist of the Harlem Renaissance that this discussion will covered are Langston Hughes, and Claude McKay, (Poetry Foundation )
Langston Hughes was born on February 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. After his parents divorced, Hughes moved to Lincoln, Illinois to live with his mother and husband. It was at the age that Hughes found a passion for written poetry. After graduating high school, Hughes attended college at Columbia University in New York City. He then finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. While still attending college, Hughes published his fire book of poetry, The Weary Blues, (Knopf, 1926) in 1926. Four years later, Hughes first novel, Not Without Laughter, (Knopf, 1930) won the Harmon gold medal for literature. Langston Hughes primary influencers mostly came from Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman. Hughes was known for his insightful, colorful portrayal of African American daily life in America. He wrote many novels, short stories, plays, and poetry that also reflected on his engagement with the world of jazz, Langston Hughes work played an enormously important role in shaping the artistic contributions to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s.
Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on September 15, 1889. Claude had the advantaged to learn literature from his other brother who had a library of English novels, poetry and science textbook. At the age of twenty-three, McKay published a book of verse called Songs of Jamaica(Gardner) which reflected life in Jamaica. In contrast, McKay then published two sonnets, “The Harlem Dancer” and “Invocation,” reflecting life in America as a black man. It wasn’t until 1934 when McKay made the officially move to Harlem, New York where he turned his attention to understanding the of spiritual values in Catholicism and political leaders. McKay’s writings were most about the journey of African Americans in different parts of world in the 1920s, which set the tone for the Harlem Renaissance.
Influence of Future Generations
The Harlem Renaissance brought awareness to the African culture through literacy, music and art. This has impact many generations to present; the Harlem Renaissance reminded everyone how African Americans were treated and how they lived in the early 1920s. It also portray the different talents of African Americans. Without the Harlem Renaissance there will be no history to look back on the upcoming of African Americans.