Langston Hughes was one of the most important writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance, which was the African American artistic movement in the 1920s that celebrated black life and culture. Hughes's creative genius was influenced by his life in New York City's Harlem, a primarily African American neighborhood. His literary works helped shape American literature and politics. Hughes, like others active in the Harlem Renaissance, had a strong sense of racial pride. Through his poetry, novels, plays, essays, and children's books, he promoted equality, condemned racism and injustice, and celebrated African American culture, humor, and spirituality.
The most prolific writer of the Harlem Renaissance was . Hughes cast off the influences of white poets and wrote with the rhythmic meter of blues and jazz. urged African Americans to stand up for their rights in his powerful verses. wrote plays and short stories, as well as poems, to capture the spirit of his times. Book publishers soon took notice and patronized many of these talents. was noticed quickly with her moving novel, . Music met prose in the form of musical comedy. The 1921 production of is sometimes credited with initiating the movement. Actor electrified audiences with his memorable stage performances.
The continuing hardships faced by African Americans in the Deep South and the urban North were severe. It took the environment of the new American city to bring in close proximity some of the greatest minds of the day. Harlem brought notice to great works that might otherwise have been lost or never produced. The results were phenomenal. The artists of the Harlem Renaissance undoubtedly transformed African American culture. But the impact on all American culture was equally strong. For the first time, white America could not look away.
No aspect of the Harlem Renaissance shaped America and the entire world as much as jazz. flouted many musical conventions with its syncopated rhythms and improvised instrumental solos. Thousands of city dwellers flocked night after night to see the same performers. meant that no two performances would ever be the same. Harlem's boasted the talents of . Singers such as and popularized blues and jazz vocals. and drew huge audiences as white Americans as well as African Americans caught jazz fever.
In the same 20-year period, Detroit’s African-American community grew 2,000 percent—from 6,000 individuals to about 120,000.
This massive demographic shift dramatically altered African-American history culturally, politically, and socially, producing during the 1920s a period of black artistic expression in literature, music, and thought known as the Harlem Renaissance.