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The Harlem Renaissance of African Americans

Walter Dean Meyers is a Harlem Renaissance poet who tried to capture the spirit and enthusiasm of the music of the period in his poem "Clara Brown, 87, Retired." In the poem the speaker describes the impact of jazz and other music of the era on the mood and atmosphere of the Harlem Renaissance, "I had to keep my feet moving, moving / 'Cause it seemed like the music / Was just gonna pour out from the churches / And the music halls and SWOOP / Me up to the rooftops" (Ryan 15). The mood and atmosphere inspired by the music of the period helped to inspire many African Americans to greater achievements across all fields and occupations.

In literature, Langston Hughes' poems often express a jazz-like rhythm in their short, staccato like rhyming couplets. Reciting them aloud is like singing the words to a song. However, these works also convey deep feelings about oppression and the struggle of African Americans to achieve their dreams in a prejudiced and racist mainstream culture. We see both the musicality and deep feeling in one of Hughes' most celebrated poems, "A Dream Deferred":

The spirit and mood of jazz music made many African Americans believe they no longer had to defer their own dreams, and it inspired many of them to great achievements in the arts and other fields.

Other writers influenced by the mood and atmosphere of jazz music during the Harlem Renaissance period include James Baldwin and James Weldon Johnson who definitely incorporate jazz music in their works and messages. In Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues," the entire short story revolves around a teacher whose brother deals with the pain of racism and oppression through drugs and losing himself in the euphoria of jazz music. We see the teacher narrator at first admits "hating" his strung-out, musician brother, until he comes to learn what jazz music means to Sonny (Baldwin 88). Music is a liberating force for Sonny that enables him to feel truly...

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The Harlem Renaissance of African Americans. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:02, August 24, 2017, from
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