Harlem Renaissance Argumentative Essay

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Modern contemporary artist Vanessa German reflects the idea that black people make themselves bright against the slaughter of our own names in a culture of a society that never visioned the Black Body into freedom, resources, or power. Just as Vanessa German empowers the black community by showing its resilience and voice, many artists during the Harlem Renaissance empowered the black community as well. The Harlem Renaissance was an influential time for African Americans to celebrate and show their art and culture to each other and the world. Art helped to bring joy after the great depression. The creativity that was sparked during the Harlem Renaissance has inspired artists today. Many artists of the Harlem Renaissance era such as Langston Hughes's “I Too”, Jacob Lawrence “The migrants arrived in great numbers”, and Ella Fitzgerald, MaRainey, James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice” used their pieces to express the resilience in the African American history in doing so they provided effective changes in supporting and celebrating black history during the harlem renaissance and now.

In the song “Lift Every Voice”, James Weldom Johnson emphasizes the point of using freedom to make the voice of all people heard even through adversity. He uses imagery and symbolism to reveal the resilience that African African american people have. James wants to make everyone listen and realize how African american people are being treated. He starts his song with “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us, Facing the rising sun of our new day begun” (Johnson 7-9). Throughout the song, he uses the word sing which is a symbol of freedom and joy. Singing makes your voice heard and appreciated which is what he wants to share. He also uses symbolism to show the suffering that they had to endure to get to this point when he talks about the dark past. Though African american people are still fighting for freedom and equality they know that there is a rising son which is the symbolism of hope and a new life. The power of someone's voice shows their strength and resilience which was shown through this song. James continues to show us the hardships of African Americans throughout the song with the use of imagery when he writes “Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered” (Johnson 16-18). He uses imagery to give us an image in our heads of what he is writing about. He shows us the anguish which African American ancestors had to go through for a new life. The blood of the slaughtered brings a vibrant image of suffering which is what James wants us to see. The path and road that African american people have to go on because of inequality is appalling and shows the true resilience and courage in their hearts. Though imagery can tell you so much about the passion and strength of a song so can rhyming. James continues to write about the imagery of the african american ancestors when he writes “Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last, Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast” (Johnson 19-21). He wants the words of the song to have a lasting effect on what we feel. The gloomy past shows an image of suffering and torment yet they are still standing here today. The white gleam in the future and hope of what is to come. The words show the adversity from the past and hope for a brighter equal future. The voice of everyone should be listened to and heard without disruption. No one should be silenced because freedom is a right of passage as a human being in this world. Similarly to freedom of voice Langston Hughes writes about the freedom of body and choice.

In the poem “ I Too”, Langston Hughes reveals the hardships that people of color have to endure and persevere through in showing America's true colors and inequality. Throughout the poem, he uses metaphors, and repetition to convey the message of discrimination and racial inequality. Langston starts his poem with a story of an African American man that is being disctrimnizied against when he says:

“I am the darker brother,

they send me to eat in the kitchen

when the company comes,

but I laugh”(Hughes 2-5).

Langston used a metaphor to show the segregation between white and black people and how it affected them. When he writes but I laugh we see the rising above and resilience of the man. Throughout the poem, we see more and more metaphors for segregation and discrimination. Again Langston Hughes revealed this when he writes


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I'll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody'll dare

Say to me,

Eat in the kitchen,

Then” (Hughes 9-15).

The metaphor is apparent throughout the poem but in this section, it comes out when Langston compares discrimination of African Americans to being told to eat alone out of racism. Racial inequality is very prevalent in the world and Langston brought it out through a poem. He showed the strength in character African Americans have. Metaphors leave lots of lasting effects and passion about what you read so does the repetition of words. Langston finishes the poem by saying “They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed I, too, am America” (Hughes 17-19). The use of I multiple times makes the poem very personal and powerful. The repetition brings the reader closer to the poem to feel like they have a strong connection. When he says I, too, am America he is saying that he belongs here just as much as everyone else and should be treated that way. Through his strength and resilience, he is able to feel like he belongs. The strength it takes to stand up for yourself and others is great and shows resilience just in that. Jacob Lawrence and Langston Hughes have a similar idea in that african american people are able to reclaim their place in the world even though racism and inequality. Though Jacob Lawrence expresses this idea through a painting.

In the art piece “The migrants arrived in great numbers'', Jacob Lawrence depicts the resilience of African Americans in being able to recover from such social inequality and migrate to a new place and new life with hope. Lawrence painted many pieces which showed the hardship of African Americans. Every painting had a very different and unique twist; he reveals this by painting groups of families and people with luggage walking with big strides. The message that Langston Hughes is showing us is that the hope for a new life is what was convincing people to migrate North. The big strides are they're wanting to get to their new life fast and how happy they are to have hope that there's something better for them in the North. The groups of people that migrated were huge and clustered together. It takes lots of resilience to move from your home to a better life not knowing where you will even start. The painting tells a story and not only do the characters in the painting mean something but the colors do as well. Lawrence paints The dark colors of the painting with small patches of grass. The dark colors represent the dark path that african americans had to take. They didn't know what the North would bring and were hoping for something better than what they had. The patches of green grass symbolize a better life and that the grass does grow greener and that's what they were looking forward to when they would arrive in the North. The South was a place with an abundance of racial inequality and they heard hopes of less of that in the North as well as job opportunities. Migrating to the North made them have to listen to other african american stories of people who had already moved and hope they would have the same. This trust proves their ability to adjust and take on anything coming their way. Lawrence depicts the migration from the South to the North and a message of hope and he shows this through a child. He paints, and a young boy exuberantly swings his suitcase behind him. Children have always been seen as an image of hope and the future. The young boy swinging his suitcase with joy foreshadows the happiness that will appear when they arrive in the North with new opportunities. He is the optimist in the group. Even the resilience is clear from a young age. Changing where you live can be hard but the opportunity outways the past. african american history is shown in many different ways and celebrated in many different ways. Though all shows how much resilience they have to continue to fight back for their rights and show the power and strength they have.

The artists of the Harlem Renaissance era such as the ones spoken about above use their pieces to express the resilience and hard work in African American history. They revealed the true hardships and adversity that african american people have to go through. Their pieces provided effective changes in supporting and celebrating black history and those around them during the harlem renaissance and now. Each piece shows us a different type of resilience from african american people. In Langston Hughes's “I Too” he reveals the segregation of African american people and tells us a story of how resilience leads to doing what he wants and not being told by a white person what he can and can't do. Similarly Jacob Lawrence's “The migrants arrived in great numbers” displays the strength and hard work that it takes to leave your home and move to a new place where you don't know anyone for a better life. In agreement with a better life James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice” wants african american voices to be heard, listened to, and celebrated for all the animosity thrown at them. African american people have endured many hardships in the past and now. Just as Vanessa German said the society we live in doesn't want black people to succeed in life and have freedom. Society needs to change the way we see black culture. These artists show the beauty and power of the black community and all the positive changes they bring. The Harlem Renaissance was a time for appreciating the art and work of black people and that is something we should be doing all the time.

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Harlem Renaissance Argumentative Essay. (2023, October 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/harlem-renaissance-argumentative-essay/
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