Changes in Harlem analysis

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:English

Document 1

A lot of his work was based on the struggles of the working class people, and he made use of jazz music as a stimulant for his creativity. This paper will take a brief look into the life of Hughes as it also identifies one of his memorable works, “Harlem”. Hughes background can be traced back to 1902, the year in which he was born in a town called Joplin in Missouri (Miller, 10). His bloodline was a mix of French, Indian and African. As a child, he had the opportunity to live in Mexico with his dad, but, was later taken back to live with his grandmother in Kansas. Hughes moved a lot while living with his mother as she struggled to look for work. She was, however, also the one who exposed him to a lot of theater and literature material at a young age. He became so good at literature that he was able to publish some of his poems for his school, Cleveland High school (Miller, 20-30). His work was so good that he was made the school’s editor. According to Hughes, most of his inspirations were from the works of Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman. Hughes’ first major poem came just after his graduation from high school. It was on his way to Mexico to visit his father, when he composed the poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”. The poem was liked by many who read it, and it was able to get a publication in the Crisis Magazine where it received even more praises (Miller, 30).

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After spending a year with his father, he later returned to the US where he enrolled at Columbia university to continue with his study. It was during this period that he joined the movement that is today known as the Harlem Renaissance. He, however, dropped out of Columbia University in 1922 and went on to do various odd jobs in New York during the rest of the year. He later got a job on a ship that was able to take him around the globe to Africa and to Spain. In 1924, he went and lived for a brief period in Paris where he continued to sharpen his skills in writing. Later that year he was able to get back to the US where continued working odd jobs until he finally met Lindsay at a hotel where he was working at.

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In 1925, Hughes was again able to get enrolled at Lincoln university, thanks to the connections he got from fellow poet Vachel Lindsay. Melancholy, sympathetic, enraged, resigned and hopeful, were some of the things that could be felt in this piece of work. Right from the start, the title of the poem, Harlem, seems quite fitting for this piece of work. One cannot mention the struggles that blacks went through in America without mentioning the streets of Harlem. Harlem was known as a safe haven for the black community as they felt that it was a place they could run and hide away from all the segregation that they underwent. It was basically a black neighborhood filled with all manner of black cultures. The writer of the poem, Hughes, is black and he writes about the challenges being faced by the black in the society.

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After their victory from slavery, the blacks expected to live a life of equity and equality, but, instead had to go through another period of racial discrimination. No matter how many social and political consensus that were reached, the black community was yet to experience the American dream that many wanted. Many of them had hoped to live a life of indiscrimination, freedom, equality and justice, but, they were yet to see any of it come true. Some of them died before they could realize any of the things they had hoped for. Some changes come through force or violence, while others are brought about by simple words or speech (Hughes, 20). Hughes felt that change was needed in America in order to make the lives of the African American community better.

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Through his own eyes, he was able to witness the racial discrimination that his kind went through, and he felt the need to do something to help bring change. The 1920s renaissance period also brought another change in his way of writing as it revealed his new found love for Jazz music. The music helped him think and come up with new ideas that explained what he felt during that period. AMERICAN (2015): 389. Hughes, Langston. The Poetry of a Movement: An Analysis of 20th Century African American Poetry. Miller, R. Baxter.

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