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Langston Hughe’s “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”

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  1. Introduction
  2. Review
  3. Conclusion

During a time when Black culture was developing and creating its place in history, Langston Hughes wrote ?The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain?, which became the manifesto of the Harlem Renaissance, and urged Blacks to not be ashamed of who they are; to take pride in their Blackness. Hughes' manifesto gave many Blacks the material to create their own Black identity. Until this time many Blacks were forced to try and mold their identities to fit into White culture. Finally, they were able to use ?The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain? as a foundation of cultural identity and pride.

When Hughes wrote this essay it was the peak of the Harlem Renaissance. Black culture was in full bloom with many writers, musicians, and artists expressing themselves. This was a difficult time for Black artists to comfortably express their identities and their culture. When Hughes was told by a ?promising young poet? that ?I want to be a poet?not a Negro poet,? (2011), Hughes delved deeper into the true meaning of the poet's statement.

In reality when that young poet said he just wanted to be a poet, he really meant, ?I want to be a White poet?, ultimately meaning, ?I want to be White?(2011). Hughes wanted to change this paradigm of aspiring to Whiteness. Throughout his essay he urges Blacks to acknowledge their race and culture and to take pride in those social aspects that permeate their identity development.

[...] Finally, they were able to use ?The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain? as a foundation of cultural identity and pride. When Hughes wrote this essay it was the peak of the Harlem Renaissance. Black culture was in full bloom with many writers, musicians, and artists expressing themselves. This was a difficult time for Black artists to comfortably express their identities and their culture. When Hughes was told by a ?promising young poet? that ?I want to be a poet?not a Negro poet,? (2011). [...]


[...] This is exactly what Hughes meant by the racial mountain. The mountain must be overcome in order to discover one's true identity and therefore become a truly successful artist. It also became popular during the Harlem Renaissance for many Whites to travel to Harlem to experience the cultural night life of Jazz music and other clubs. Although many Whites were coming to see Black artists, many Blacks were denying their race and refusing to partake. They would instead see White artists sing White music because it was considered the proper and American thing to do. [...]

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