Harlem renaissance

Harlem renaissance

Sterling Brown

Sterling brown born and brought up in Washington in the 19th century . He was born in 1901. He went to Dunbar High School. He graduated from Williams College. He got his masters’ degree from Harvard. Thereafter he worked as a teacher in Lynchburg till 1926 at Virginia Seminary and College. After his short stint at Virginia, he went to teach at university of Howard. His first book came in 1932 named as Southern Road. He appreciated and was interested in studying the work of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, Amy Lowell, Edgar Lee Masters, Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg. He was a poet by heart. His poetry had jazz, blues, working song, spirituality. His poetry was inspired by Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Countee Cullen, etc. Basically he was inspired by the black poets of that era. His main work comprised of the condition of the Africans in America. His first book got huge appreciation and he became quite famous in the harlem renaissance and amongst the blacks. He wanted to publish his second book. But he could not get a publisher for it due to Great Depression. Since there was no hope so he started writing compositions, theseis, and concentrated his career as a teacher in Howard. He taught at Howard till the end and finally retired in 1969. Thereafter he published his second poetry book in 1975, The Last Ride of Wild Bill. He was very honest, open, non sentimental in his writings. He wrote about the blacks and their lives and experience. He wrote about how African-American tradition and modern day expression into his poems. He died in Takoma Park, Maryland in 1989 (Powell, Richard and David, 1997).

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes born as James Langston Hughes in 1902, Joplin Missouri . When he was a child his parents got divorced, and his father went to Mexico. Till the age of thirteen he lived with his grandmother. Thereafter he went to Lincoln, Illinois, where he lived with his mother. After he moved with his mother and her new husband, the family finally went to Cleveland Ohio. When he was in Lincoln, he had started writing verses. After he graduated he lived in Mexico for some time and spent one year at Columbian University. He took different kinds of jobs to feed himself like that of a cook, laundry man, busboys. He became part of seamen and went to Africa and Europe. After in 1924 he came back to Washington. In 1926 his fist poetry book called The Weary Blues was printed. After three years he completed his graduation at the Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (Patton, Venetria,2006). He wrote a novel, Not Without Laughter, for which he was awarded Harmon gold medal in literature. He was inspired by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman in his writings. His portrayed the lives of blacks very colorfully and artistically through his very good understanding of their lives in America. He not only wrote poems, but also was well equipped in writing novels, play and small stories. His work had impressions of jazz in it. The work of Langston Hughes is considered very thoughtful and important in Harlem renaissance. His work is an important contribution to the arty work of Harlem renaissance. He did not distinguish between the personal and common experience of African American. He wanted that people should know about the lives and happiness, the experiences, music, speech, culture, traditions, of the blacks in the same way as they lived. During his lifetime he wrote many poems, as well more than ten plays, infinite number of prose’s. The most famous one -Simple. He was autobiographer of The Big Sea which got critically acknowledged. He also took part in editing anthologies. He died due to prostate cancer in 1967, New York. Due to his contributions to the society a street has been named after him known as Langston Hughes Place in New York (Watson, Steven, 1995).

Double consciousness

Harlem renaissance is known as the culture of colorful people as well as black people. So it is called double consciousness. The meaning of double consciousness is that if there is an black American who is artist by nature then should he confine to his roots or should he indulge in absorbing culture of Europeans or Americans. Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown were both honest towards their roots. They were truthful towards the African American culture. The poem The Weary Blues is a fine example of double consciousness. The poets were successful in upholding their (African) culture, by compromising with the unavoidable European American certainty of structure and substance (Perry, Jeffrey, 2008)


Both the poets were black and at that time when being black was considered shameful. They both tried to discover the lives of black people through their poems. They showed that black is as handsome as white in their poems. Their main concern was the upliftment of their own people. They wanted to show the Americans, the strength, resilience, happiness, audacity, laughter, comedy, music, playfulness of their people. Their poetry as well their other writings gave a deep understanding of the lives of the African Americans. They wanted to show the struggle of these people through their work. So they were like silent protestors. Through their work they protested against the living conditions of Africans in America. They showed how racial discrimination was prevalent and what social situations were prevailing. Thus the main outline of their work was demonstrating the lives of black Americans (Perry, Jeffrey, 2008).


Perry, Jeffrey B. Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883–1918. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

Patton, Venetria K. Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology. New Jersey , 2006.

Powell, Richard and David A. Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance.Berkeley, 1997.

Watson, Steven. The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920–1930. New York: , 1995.