Does the Harlem Renaissance have one unified style?
No, the Harlem Renaissance is characterized by the multiple experimenting of different forms and styles. This cultural movement encompasses a wide variety of styles including music, poetry and plays.
The variation and experimentation of styles and elements of this cultural revolution evident in the poems of Hughes, McKay and Countee contributed to a new identity or consciousness – ‘New Negro’ identity.
The poetry of Cullen and McKay has roots in conservative traditional poetry influenced by European literature while Hughes’s style is more modern.
Experimentation and diversification provides the basis for finding one’s own voice which is what the Harlem Renaissance provided: newly formed identities and traditions. The underlying thread that ran through Harlem Renaissance was freedom – freedom of creative expression and freedom from social, political and economic oppression.
What relationship does the Harlem Renaissance have to the 1960s movements in Birmingham and other cities in the American south?
The cultural movement of the Harlem Renaissance used the creative expressive voice of poetry to strive for self-determination of a much maligned people and to redress the humiliating inequalities of social oppression, political and economic inequality.
This movement encased in the time period of the 1920s and 1930s saw the African American people move from southern American states to north American cities in search for freedom from oppression and better living standards.
The relationship of the Harlem Renaissance to that of the cities in the American south during the 1960s parallels the struggles of the African American people to fight for recognition as well as a better living standard.
Both historical periods has witnessed the prejudice and subjugation of the African American people characterized by them side-lined with menial labor.
How does Zinn relate the Harlem Renaissance to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X?
Both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X strove for self-determination of the African American people. The Harlem Renaissance set the foundation for the emergence of the new identity and social consciousness.
The creative expression of the Harlem Renaissance gave voice to the African American people. Their outrage and frustration due to the injustices meted out to them was voiced through this cultural movement by way of poetry, music and literature. This voice was characterized by its nonviolence stance (through the written word) and this position was echoed by Martin Luther King who placed stress heavily on love and nonviolence; and in addition by Malcolm X.
Do form and content need to be in agreement in creative work, or can they differ from each other?
Experimentation with both elements of form and content has resulted in works created that have had substantial impact on memory and society at large; the Harlem Renaissance as a case in point.
The challenge of every artist is to find a form that manages to successfully convey the content of their ideas. Variation of form and content can lead to an explosion of ideas and meaning in a creative work.
Modern content fits well in the traditional form as can be seen by the poetry of both Cullen and McKay. Each creative work echoes an individual’s unique voice; the form/content agreement can differ.