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Homework Help: Solved 191506

Thanks to the increased urbanization brought on by a growing industrial revolution and the subsequent bringing together of many of the country’s African American citizens, primarily within the region of New York City known as Harlem, a great artistic movement that would eventually change the nation began to take root. The Harlem Renaissance, a period spanning roughly the decades of the 1920s and 1930s, is frequently referred to as a literary movement, but the movement also encompassed a great explosion of African-American expression in many venues that celebrated the unique heritage, art forms, sights and sounds that were the African-American experience. However, it was through the literature that much of this expression came to the attention of the rest of the nation, enabling it to have the tremendous impact it did on its own as well as future generations. One of the literary artists that gained the most recognition during this period was Langston Hughes. Hughes came into his professional years just as the Harlem Renaissance was becoming recognized on a more national scale and had the courage to both take inspiration from and yet disagree with his mentors such as W.E.B. DuBois by writing about the positive and negative aspects of black life (Rampersad, 2000). Some of the major themes of his life can be seen in his poetry including “I, Too, Sing America” representing the dreams for the future held by the entire black race and informed by Langston’s family tree. The struggle for American dreams, experienced on a personal level as well as throughout history, is envisioned to have a positive future in “I, Too, Sing America.” In this poem, Hughes discusses the treatment of the black man as it has been experienced in American until this point: “They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes” (3-4) but also indicates the emerging strength of the black nation as they began to experience greater human rights and more opportunity for education. “I laugh, / And eat well, / And grow strong” (5-7). As he gains in knowledge, wisdom and opportunity, Hughes recognizes that black people will not always be so easy to dismiss, again utilizing the metaphor of the dinner table: “Tomorrow, / I’ll be at the table / When company comes / Nobody’ll dare / Say to me, / ‘Eat in the kitchen’, / Then” (8-14). While he expresses his outrage that he is still dismissed when company comes, he is also exultant that it won’t be long until many of his brothers will be educated just like him and able to lift up their unique voices to add to the cultural mix that is America. Once this is allowed to happen, Hughes is sure that the brilliance, creativity and spirit of his people will be recognized for the beautiful substance it has as will the contributions the black race has made to the development of the country. Without their work and struggles, America would not have had the strength it did just as without the voice of the black man, the country would not have the rich and vibrant culture it had developed. For this reason, he is very confident when he claims, “I, too, sing America” (18). At the same time the poem calls for a happier future for the black man, it can be seen to have been informed by the voices of Hughes’ past. “Much was expected by his ancestors … Among these ghostly but commanding figures were a white Virginia planter, the poet’s great-grandfather, who had defied the mores of the South to live with the black woman he loved and their children; two of their sons – one who risked almost everything in fighting against slavery and segregation, another who had also fought for freedom but lived to serve in the U.S. Congress and represent his country in Haiti” (Rampersad, 2000: 4-5). This history is suggested in the poem as Hughes makes a special point of mentioning he is asked to eat in the kitchen “when company comes” (4), with the full implication that when company is not present, he is allowed to eat at the table as if he were one of the family. His dark skin, once so unacceptable as to not be allowed in the house except within the context of a working capacity in the time of his ancestors, was now acceptable enough to eat with the family and at least eat in the house when company was calling. The triumphant prediction that one day no one will dare to ask him to eat in the kitchen is based upon the precedent of the past. With his careful linking of brilliant creativity, highlighting not only his own abilities but the abilities of his fellow black men as well, and his sense of history and perseverance of the race, it is no surprise that Langston Hughes emerged as the spokesperson for the Harlem Renaissance. He celebrated his people’s accomplishments even while he acknowledged their weaknesses, whether it was through a lack of opportunity or a lack of educated (white man’s) language. His refusal to couch his poems in the language of the educated white man enabled him to capture more of the culture and diversity of the people he was trying to expose to the world and served as a role model for younger generations who also felt the need to expose the trials and triumphs of their race. Works Cited Hughes, Langston. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Vintage Classics, 1995. Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume 1: 1902-1941. I, Too, Sing America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More


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