Harlem Renaissance

Harlem Renaissance

Strayer University

HUM 112

Poet Langston Hughes was born February 1st, 1902 and he’s known as one of the greatest poets during the Harlem Renaissance. One of the many poems that he wrote is entitled “the Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” Mr. Hughes played a very significant role during the Renaissance as he used his work to help express the rights of the African Americans. It was his poem that he brought attention to the fact that those of color were also beautiful people who were deserving of every privilege and right that everyone else also had. Mr. Hughes helped shed light onto the plight and the discrimination that was going on against those of color.

In Mr. Hughes writings he has brought out the double consciousness. In his poem, he has brought to attention situations where those reading them feel they are being discriminated against or being treated unfairly and yet as you read you also feel as if you should be treated equally as everyone. This is brought to attention when Mr. Hughes brings out the element that the blacks are those of dark-skinned complexion and that everyone else knows that those of color is not attractive. Part of the double consciousness is that Mr. Hughes also comments that those of color is also very beautiful even though most still see them as unattractive.

One of the other subject matter that Mr. Hughes brings to attention in his poem is the racial awareness amongst those of color. In his poem, Mr. Hughes writes, “the younger negro artist who create now intend to express our dark-skinned selves without fear of shame. We build out temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain free within ourselves”. It’s in these words that those of color realize that they do have the same rights that everyone else has and that they are just as important as anyone else. The black community realizing they do have rights were willing to stand up for themselves and to fight for their rights (The Poetry Place, 2011).

During the Harlem Renaissance, there was another famous poet by the of Claude McKay. He’s best known for his poem “If We Must Die.” It was through this piece that he helped bring out the unrelenting spirit within his audience. In his piece, you can see him inspiring his audience never to give up and die like dogs. It’s this poem that is reassuring his audience to fight for their rights and to put forth the necessary efforts to gain these rights. His role in this period is that of an influencer, and he encourages his audience not just to roll over and die but to stand up for their rights (The U.S. Survey, 2004).

Mr. McKay’s role is not only an influencer but that of someone who illuminated those that could not see their plight. It’s through his words and his message that he’s able to shine light onto society and all that may come to pass. Mr. McKay plays the role of an eye-opener by also giving his audience another way in which they may continue to live. Mr. McKay encourages them to fight no matter how reckless and dangerous it may be. In his poem, the double consciousness is also brought out when he is characterizing the people as being pressed against the wall, and yet at the same time, he’s also describing the people as fighting back. The double consciousness is that the people are being characterized as not only valiant but also as being treated harshly (The Poetry Place, 2011).

One of the main themes that are being brought out in this poem is that of persistence. This is brought out by no matter that situation or how hard it is you just never give up. Mr. McKay informs his audience that they should put forth the necessary effort and not roll over and die. In his poem it’s made very clear that the antagonist is a lot stronger then his audience is but that they should never give up and that they should fight to the very end without ever giving up. Mr. McKay inspires his audience to fight without ever giving up, and if they do this, then they will overcome their enemies (The U.S. Survey, 2004).

These poems are very important in the fact they can still be relatable to today’s period. In our own life, we are still coming face to face with oppression and those who have power trying to force their will over us. If we were to look at our government, it’s clear that they are no longer for the people but their greed, and it’s their laws and own interests that hurt the people. If we were to read these poems and apply them to our own lives today, we can fight back and try to make this world a better place by treating everyone with the same rights and freedoms that we all should have.

By going to the voting booth, we can make our voices heard we can also sign petitions and write our congress men and women. Instead of just lying down and letting their greed and own special interests hurt us anymore we can make our voices heard and made the changes. I know in my profession I’m able to help those who don’t have a voice be heard, as someone in HR I’m able to be the person who not only hears the employee but also those in power and hopefully I can help make the changes that will help benefit both parties.


The Poetry Place. (2011, October 04). Three Poems from Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance. Retrieved June 11, 2015, from The Poetry Place Web Site: https://thepoetryplace.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/three-poems-from-langston-hughes-the-harlem-renaissance/

THE U.S. SURVEY. (2004). History Matters. Retrieved June 11, 2015, from History Matters Web Site: historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5130/

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