Harlem Renaissance by Nathan Irvin Huggins

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Book Review of The Harlem Renaissance


Antonio Ragland


In the book entitled "Harlem Renaissance" by Nathan Irvin Huggins a story is told about the time period before World War I and the following years in which a "Black Metropolis" was created unlike the world had ever seen. It was the largest and by far the most important black community in the world. It brought together black intellectuals from all over the world to this new "Black Mecca" with dreams of prosperity and change. Their common goal was the prosperity of the New Negro as Alain Locke called them. This New Negro was one that was cultured, educated, artistic, and would bring prosperity to the African-American. All these were the promises of the Harlem Renaissance. I think that his thesis was in the opening sentence when he talks about Harlem. When people saw Harlem, they saw opportunity, they saw a place where they could escape and enjoy artistic freedom.

They saw liberation, they saw hope, they saw a place where confidence was in abundance. That confidence translated to the belief that reform could be attained. Sadly, Nathan Irvin Huggins points out that all they were was deceived by their dream. They all saw in Harlem much more than what was really there. A common belief was that they could use their talents as a way of bridging the gap between the races. Unfortunately racism has been so deep rooted in the white American psyche that it would take more than the New Negro proving he had artistic talent to be accepted as one and the same. Huggins also cites that their art was compromised by the fact that it was intended for white patrons and was not a full reflection of them. Another mistake they made...