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The Harlem Renaissance - Langston Hughes

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The Harlem Renaissance played a major role in Black History, as well as in American History as a whole. During this period blacks were realizing their potentials as writers, artists, and other social and intellectual figures. It was a great time for blacks, but many hardships accompanied their triumphs. Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston took great steps as black writers and many other blacks were successful as Jazz musicians and baseball players.

Langston Hughes was very concerned with the role of Black Americans in the white society. Many of his poems illustrate his role as a spokesman for African American society and the working poor. In his other poems, he relates his ideas on the importance of heritage and the past. Hughes accomplishes this with a straightforward, easily understandable writing style that clearly conveys his thoughts and opinions, although he has frequently been criticized for the slightly negative tone to his works. In his poem Mother to Son, a black mother urges her son to keep going on, despite the hardships. She pushes him by saying, "So boy, don't you turn your back./ Don't you set down on the steps/ Ð''Cause you finds it's kinder hard./ Don't you fall now-/ For, I'se still goin', honey,/ I'se still climbin." Langston Hughes realizes that blacks have just as much, if not more potential than whites. He also realizes that it is going to take some pain and suffering on the part of blacks to get to that potential.

Hughes believed that blacks fall under an inappropriate criticism from themselves. When talking about middle class blacks in The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, Hughes says, "But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in AmericaÐ'-this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible." Hughes believed that blacks often forgot their true heritage while trying to be more like the white people. Black parents tell their children not to behave like negros, to do things perfectly like the white man. Hughes believed that blacks were taught not to see how special their own culture was, because it was not the white way of doing things. Hughes wanted blacks to return to their own culture, to stop being so white. "But, to my mind, it is the duty of the

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