How did the Harlem Renaissance affect art and literature?


Wardah Fazil, Opinions Writer

          Black History month should not be the only time we celebrate African Americans in history. African American culture affects more of our everyday life that we may realize: from art, to literature, to the civil rights movement. 


          Throughout the history of America, African Americans were treated poorly and were never given the importance or rights they deserved. However, that did not stop them. African Americans spread their influence as much as they could throughout the country. They changed art, created a new meaning to literature and fought for their rights thereby changing politics. This can be shown throughout the Harlem Renaissance.


        Art was a big part of the Harlem Renaissance. Art about freedom anc life as a colored person in America had changed the way people think. Throughout history, there had always been changes done in art, but the Harlem Renaissance was by far the most unique yet cultural change in art seen by man. It expressed freedom, culture, and the modern-changing world. Art included photography, paintings, and sculptures expressing their culture.  The uniqueness came from the different styles and creation methods. One example of art would be the painting Black Belt, by Archibald J. Motley Jr. This piece of art really illustrates African American culture. It shows their part of life that keeps them happy and keeps them going, the part no one really saw before. Furthermore, Harlem Art helped contribute to the creation of Harlem Community Art Center (HCAC). This art center supported future artists to continue their knowledge of art in future generations. Additionally, the Harlem Renaissance was modern enough that women played a major role in the spread of it. They mainly worked in plays, singers, actors, and dancers. 


          During the Harlem Renaissance, literature was just as important as art. Literature genres included poetry, fiction, non- fiction. They openly expressed their pain and their hardships in slavery and discrimination. They advocated for free rights and equality. Moreover, they wrote music using their own unique styles. They inserted black folk music into modern music to help express their culture. They also mixed modern writing with traditional black stories and spread them throughout the country. One example would be the author Zora Neale Hurston who wrote one of the most read books today, Their Eyes were Watching God. She studied African American language and culture throughout the US and mixed it together. She mixed together cultures, traditions, and languages to create her own unique style of writing.


          On the other hand,  there were still ways that the Renaissance got repressed. Many people advocated for the Southern mindset of America. There were people who did not believe that it was important enough and spread the discrimination all over again. 


         Overall, there are certain events that we do not realize the influence of in our lives, one of them being the Harlem Renaissance. Art, literature, and basic human rights for people of color have emerged from this Revolution. The uniqueness of their culture and their new creation of style left the world in awe. They changed the history of politics and the social mindset of America. The Harlem Renaissance is one of the greatest and most influential time periods in American history and should be given much more importance. It should be taught in schools and the importance of their culture should never be inferior.