Why Was the Harlem Renaissance so Important?

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The Harlem Renaissance was important for its impact on the worlds of theatre, literature and jazz. Plays in the early 20th century typically portrayed negative black stereotypes through practices such as blackface, and the plays of the Harlem renaissance portrayed African-American characters as realistically human. This advancement would eventually affect all theatre in America.

The Harlem Renaissance also had a number of effects on literature. Newspapers such as The Voice provided a political voice for the “New Negro Movement,” but also promoted both modern African-American literature as well as often-overlooked literature from the 19th century. The Harlem Renaissance also led to the emergence of a number of influential African-American writers such as Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes who helped bring national attention to African-American writing.

Jazz was an important musical contribution of the Harlem Renaissance. Specifically, jazz helped to break down a number of social boundaries of the period. It helped to highlight the piano as an instrument that anyone could play, not just wealthy people. It also made black music and culture much more attractive to white people, effectively helping to break down the boundaries between the races in terms of musical composition and musical culture. These artistic contributions and the subsequent blurring of racial boundaries laid the groundwork for what would eventually be the major civil rights struggle for equality after World War II.