Genesis Rosario . Harlem Renaissance. What was the Harlem Renaissance?.
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The Harlem Renaissance refers to the African-American boom of cultural expression that peaked in the 1920s. Harlem, in New York City, was at the center of what was first called the New Negro Movement and then the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a celebration of African-American heritage expressed through an outpouring of art, literature, music and dance.
The Harlem Renaissance was helped along by intellectuals and the expansion of urban cultures. Artistic expression and articulated appreciation of African-American culture helped to get white Americans to take notice of the talents of black Americans for the first time. The Harlem Renaissance succeeded in destroying some racist stereotypes through brilliant works in song, dance, paint and print.
For the first time, white-owned publishing houses published books by black authors. Some white Americans helped to promote the literary works of black Americans to the white community. Black-owned businesses helped black artists. The Harlem Renaissance was about being proud to be African-American, or a black American.
The Harlem Renaissance grew out of the changes that had taken place in the African American community since the abolition of slavery. These accelerated as a consequence of World War I and the great social and cultural changes in early 20th century United States. Industrialization was attracting people to cities from rural areas and gave rise to a new mass culture. Contributing factors leading to the Harlem Renaissance were the Great Migration of African Americans to northern cities, which concentrated ambitious people in places where they could encourage each other, and the First World War, which had created new industrial work opportunities for tens of thousands of people. Factors leading to the decline of this era include the Great Depression.
The Apollo Theater played an important role in Harlem’s cultural life. Its weekly Amateur Nights showcased many talents, including Ella Fitzgerald. Almost every African American performer played there at least once.
During the Renaissance, African American newspapers and magazines promoted Harlem’s Literary community by publishing its work and holding writing contest. Much of the writing from this period explores African American cultural heritage and tensions between black traditions and mainstream culture and society. Many writers celebrated black culture as an important source of art and inspiration.
Characterizing the Harlem Renaissance was an overt racial pride that came to be represented in the idea of the New Negro, who through intellect and production of literature, art, and music could challenge the pervading racism and stereotypes to promote progressive or socialist politics, and racial and social integration. The creation of art and literature would serve to "uplift" the race.
Some common themes represented during the Harlem Renaissance were the influence of the experience of slavery and emerging African-American folk traditions on black identity, the effects of institutional racism, the dilemmas inherent in performing and writing for elite white audiences, and the question of how to convey the experience of modern black life in the urban North