Harlem Renaissance Poets

Harlem Renaissance Poets


Harlem Renaissance (1917-1935) was a period where the African-American writers, poets, socialist and leaders emerged to fight against social discrimination and racism in America. Langston Hughes, DuBois, Thurman are some of the people who emerged and wrote, sang and expressed African problems. The paper examine the poem “I, Too” by Hughes and “The Song of the Smoke” by DuBois in order to express the themes that Harlem Renaissance highlighted. These themes include racism, cultural isolation, slavery and social discrimination in America.

Role and importance of DuBois and Hughes within the Harlem Renaissance

DuBois was the editor of the magazine “The Crisis”. The magazine highlighted that the blacks could not meet social equality by emulating ideas and standards of the whites. The author also mentions that it is through enhancing African heritage and culture that the Africans' racial pride will be attained.

Hughes was a poet, socialist and singer. The poems of Hughes incorporated and influenced by some elements of jazz and blues music which expressed the agony, suffering of the Africans in America during the Harlem Renaissance (Jones 2011).These elements include rhythm and message delivery method. 

Hughes and DuBois were so important in condemning psycho-social discrimination. They made sure that every African accept own color and resist racism. They also fought for social justice and African right in which every black in America now enjoys. Hence act as founders of freedom for the blacks in America (Howard 2009).

Evidence of Double Consciousness in the Poems

In the Harlem Renaissance poems, there is evidence of double and consciousness. The elements below enumerates the issue of double consciousness. “I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes…” from the poem as expressed in the poem “I, Too sing America”. (Wallace 2008).

“I am the Smoke King, I am black” (Wintz2013). The narrator expresses the idea of racism by accepting that there is color difference. This shows that the narrator is fed up by the ongoing racial discrimination. 

Racism and cultural Barrier

“…am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong… how beautiful I am And be ashamed—I, too, am America.”(Wallace 2008). This is part of Hughes’ poem. Every time visitors come, the narrator forced to eat at the kitchen. But does not bother about the isolation. Instead, when tomorrow comes, the narrator will go and eat with them at the dining table. This show racism by the whites to the blacks in America during the time renaissance. The author mention about beauty and determination to resist the cultural and color difference.

The poem “I, Too” motivates the black to love their color. Every person is beautiful and has a right to live a live so social. Though during renaissance time the blacks did not enjoy their rights due to discrimination, Hughes urges them to look superior and not being under rated. In the line “I, Too, Sing America,” shows the patriotism the Africans have on America (Wintz 2013). The narrator expresses the love to the country America.

 “I am the Smoke King, I am black... I will be black as blackness can—…  I whiten my black men—I blacken my white!  What’s the hue of a hide to a man in his might?” DuBois insight to blacks that being a black is great. Tell fellow blacks to come out and express themselves with no fear. To be optimistic and positive about life. Since, every single person should love its own life.


The African in the America during the 1920’s century faced a lot of discrimination and forced slavery (Wintz 2013). The expectation was that Africans work for whites as casualty workers. The poets’ mention and defines clearly how discrimination and slavery affected many Africans. Though, the poets mentions this issues they also keep hope and encourage fellow Africans on importance of being optimistic and hopeful in life.

“I am daubing God in night, I am swabbing Hell in white:” (Wallace 2008). In this lines of poem DuBois mentions clearly that African as possibility of toping even if still underrated by the whites. Thus encourages Africans to appreciate their skin color and work for better.


They stare at me,

Every time I pass-by,

But with no surprise I look down, and continue my journey,

Journey to heaven, journey of finding a living.

They always make me wash their dirty clothes, feed their dogs and clean their environment,

Every time I ask for a job,

But the salary is a mere green vegetable and rice for work, or

The remains of meat from their dog, is what I get,

All in all, we live a life ones,

All will die, even their loved dogs,

My journey still continues, through the black narrow tunnel, the tunnel to heaven,

But not black as I am.

Life is bright ahead, as all is well.


Slavery, racism and discrimination were the major problems that the Africans faced. Harman Renaissance authors highlighted these problem. Apart from highlighting the issues, the authors gave hope to the Africans in America. Thus, teaching them on importance of optimists and hope. This explosion by the leaders during Harman renaissance period led to fight for the rights of equality of all citizens. 


Howard, S. E. (2009). "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" An African Centered Historical Study of the Self ethnic Liberatory Education Nature and Goals of the Poetry of Langston Hughes: the Impact on Adult Education. Dissertations, 21.

Jones, M. D. (2011). The muse is music: Jazz poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to spoken word. University of Illinois Press.

Wallace, M. O. (2008). Langston Hughes: The Harlem Renaissance. Marshall Cavendish.

Wintz, C. D. (2013). Remembering the Harlem Renaissance (Vol. 5). Routledge.

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