Through Darkness Comes Light

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With an Armistice signed, the elongated suffering of over four-hundred million Europeans and Americans in total carnage has ceased, the sanguinary World War had finally come to a definite end. As they say, “through darkness comes light”, the brutal war came a fresh new decade which featured a rebellious generation that would establish a momentous period of American History, The Roaring 20s. It was a period of economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge in the United States and Europe, particularly in major cities such as Berlin, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, and Sydney.

The new decade, famed for its drastic alterations in art and politics gave the world vivacity during the interwar era. Affluence was accustomed to the American people due to the soaring economic profits. These circumstances gave rise to one of the biggest technology revolutions, paving the way for mass-produced automobiles through Henry Ford’s brilliant idea of the assembly line, the Radio broadcasting system became a primary source for the media, and even the cinematic industry developed a sound system to make the first sound movie titled, ‘The Jazz Singer’ (1927).

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Nevertheless, the 20s influenced new social norms that the prior generations were reluctant to endorse. In August of 1920, congress ratified the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony and other women’s rights pioneers pledged to equalize the gap that separated men and women and by the end of World War I, millions of women took up a plethora of occupations that were restricted years prior. Despite the huge achievements in progressing female entitlements, there was a more enormous social and artistic transformation, located in the northern section of New York’s Manhattan Island. The cultural explosion centered in the neighborhood, Harlem, and was thus called the Harlem Renaissance. At the time, people referred to the event as the ‘New Negro Movement’, named after ‘The New Negro’, a 1925 anthology edited by Alain Locke. The Harlem Renaissance was a pivotal era in the development of how society views African American culture. During this period a group of influential figures in the creative arts such as Duke Ellington, Aaron Douglas, and Zora Neale Hurston helped to turn Harlem into a major center of African American music, literature, politics, and culture. Knowingly, it was less a movement than an attempt by artists to support each other in a cultural environment during a time in history when African Americans did not have comprehensive advocation by the public in their creative expression. The local black artists of New York and other major cities around the United States had enriched their heritage and values and more so deliberately reconstructed society’s perspective of African Americans through their unparalleled accomplishments in the arts and the progressive black voices that ushered the future civil rights movement forty years later.

Over time, the Harlem neighborhood has chronicled numerous changes in ethnic makeup and even geography. However, spanning the years from 1910 to 1920, more than a million African Americans relocated to a multitude of major cities in the north and west to escape the unsatisfactory economic opportunities and the pitiless segregation that thrived in the south. A mass amount of these migrators traveled to New York City where the only affordable housing were tenements discovered in the heart of Harlem. As African Americans found their new home, they began to challenge their current public perspective, confronting racial discrimination and other social or political issues that diminished their status. The sort of unity of African Americans that was formed in Harlem and other cities was ideal for the black pride mentality that appeared as a result. From the run-down homes and apartments, an extraordinarily talented group of black individuals were exposed and used their relative art forms to express their deplorable situation.

In the Early Renaissance, writers such as Claude McKay and James Weldon Johnson use the technique of depicting blacks as who they are; like everyone, complicated human beings. According to ‘In The Defence Of African American Culture’, from Gale U.S History Collection, James Weldon Johnson says, “In this way, the Negro is bringing about an entirely new national conception of himself; he has placed himself in an entirely new light before the American people”. Johnson’s claim provides context on the African American mindset of the 1920s where all they had was their artistic endeavor and through that passion, they changed the face of African American people. Although literature was deeply impactful for black progressiveness, the era is foremost defined by the exhilarating swing of jazz. Nationwide, jazz had become the new music sensation, its unprecedented cadence was instituted by African Americans and influenced by both African rhythms and Europeans harmonic structure. Jazz’s roots derive from New Orleans, the city was perfect for the development of jazz due to its location as a port city with various ethnicities and cultures intertwined. Jazz, in its most basic terms, was the music of minorities. These conditions suggest how special jazz was to the African American community.

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Through Darkness Comes Light. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
“Through Darkness Comes Light.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Through Darkness Comes Light. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 May 2024].
Through Darkness Comes Light [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from:

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