Sunday, May 11, 2008

Historical Background

Harlem Renaissance

This period was during the 1920s. Blacks began a "new era" fro themselves. It was also a fine arts movement that led to an increase in black confidence, literacy rate, and black culture. Writers wrote about their roots and the current society. Most of the movement took place near Harlem and was led by the middle class educated blacks.

Civil Rights Movement

This period was during the 1960s. Blacks fought for their civil rights and their voting rights. Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, made the phrase "separate, but equal" illegal. Central High School, in Little Rock, Arkansas, was the first school to allow integration without court order. Martin Luther King led many events during this period, such as the March of Washington. The bus boycotts that lasted from 1955-1956 crippled the bus business and eventually allowed blacks to sit anyone on the buses.

Monday, May 5, 2008



The Harlem Renaissance is like the Civil Rights Movement in many ways. Here are some of the similarities I have picked:

1. Both involve the black community overcoming a social obstacle, whether it was making a new
identity or fighting for equality.
2. Both periods began through the problems of racism in the South. The racism before the
Harlem Renaissance caused the Great Migration North and the racism before Civil Rights
began the movement.
3. Through their freedom to express themselves as a people, many riots and fights occurred with
those that opposed them.


There were also many differences between the two periods. Here are the major differences:

1. The Harlem Renaissance took place in the north, mostly near Harlem, and the Civil Rights
Movement took place in the south.
2. The Harlem Renaissance was a time period that encouraged the finding of one's identity
and embracing one's culture, whereas the Civil Rights was period that encouraged civil
disobedience and the fight to receive what one deserves.
3. The Harlem Renaissance also called for the black community to set themselves apart from everyone else and to stay as a close-net community, but the Civil Rights called for the opposite. It discouraged segregation from others and warranted for the blending of all communities.

The period's representation to the artists

Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance represented the birth of a new beginning of freedom and identity for the black artists. Following the Great Migration, blacks began to form black communities and the level of confidence in themselves, their culture, and the literacy rate rose. The majority of the movement took place near Harlem. The writers wrote about their roots and the current society, the musicians played their new style of music: blues and jazz, and the artists expressed their culture's thoughts and feelings in their work.

Civil Rights

The Civil Rights was a movement for intense equality between the different races in society and the struggle for the voices of blacks and the minority to be heard. For the artists, their work reflected on the everyday struggle of segregation, racial violence, and civil disobedience. For the people, their day included protesting for what they believed while trying to stay out of harm's way. Writers, like Lorraine Hansberry, wrote about a typical black family's struggle through society. All who truly believed sought change during this period of division.

Elements of each period

Harlem Renaissance Period

The most important elements within the Harlem Renaissance Period was the literature and the music. It was the literature that told the world what occurred within the black society, and their fight for social freedom and racial identity, but it was the music that helped people "feel" what they were facing every day.

The literature consisted of true stories, made-up stories, and even stereotypical stories. Many writers included Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Claude McKay. The music was usually jazz and blues, originated down in New Orleans. Some of the most famous musicians include Louis Armstrong, Thomas 'Fats' Waller, Duke Ellington, and Bessie Smith.

Civil Rights Movement Period

The most important element within the Civil Rights Period was the pictures that showed how the minorities were being treated. The photographs are considered works of art. They captured what writing and music could not. Nothing can replace a more realistic form of art than a photograph. The most prominent photographer at the time was Charles H. Alston.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Raisin in the Sun Themes

The Value and Purpose of Dreams
A Raisin in the Sun is essentially about dreams, as the main characters struggle to deal with the oppressive circumstances that rule their lives. The title of the play references a conjecture that Langston Hughes famously posed in a poem he wrote about dreams that were forgotten or put off. He wonders whether those dreams shrivel up “like a raisin in the sun.” Every member of the Younger family has a separate, individual dream—Beneatha wants to become a doctor, for example, and Walter wants to have money so that he can afford things for his family. The Youngers struggle to attain these dreams throughout the play, and much of their happiness and depression is directly related to their attainment of, or failure to attain, these dreams. By the end of the play, they learn that the dream of a house is the most important dream because it unites the family.

The Need to Fight Racial Discrimination
The character of Mr. Lindner makes the theme of racial discrimination prominent in the plot as an issue that the Youngers cannot avoid. The governing body of the Youngers’ new neighborhood, the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, sends Mr. Lindner to persuade them not to move into the all-white Clybourne Park neighborhood. Mr. Lindner and the people he represents can only see the color of the Younger family’s skin, and his offer to bribe the -Youngers to keep them from moving threatens to tear apart the Younger family and the values for which it stands. Ultimately, the Youngers respond to this discrimination with defiance and strength. The play powerfully demonstrates that the way to deal with discrimination is to stand up to it and reassert one’s dignity in the face of it rather than allow it to pass unchecked.


"A Raisin in the Sun," by Lorraine Hansberry was a play that depicted the real life struggles of a black family trying to make a living among their oppressors. This family was a representation of black families during the time period of the '50s and '60s. Hansberry addressed many issues within the play including feminist views, racial identity, racism, and abortion rights. The most important issue in the play is the value of one's dreams. The play's focus was on all of the character's personal dreams. They were so focused on their dreams that they stopped working together as a family and began falling apart. In the end, everyone put their dreams aside and was happy just to be family. Hansberry implies that in order for blacks to make it during the time period in which the play was written, they should work together as a family unit first, then shoot for their dreams. Then, they will make it even further.

Racial discrimination is one of the bigger themes too. When Mr. Lindner pleas with the Youngers not to buy the house, it demonstrates back then how the white society viewed a black family trying to better themselves. The strain about their decision continued to pick the family apart, just how discrimination in the '50s and '60s picked families apart. The family's ultimate decision to stand up to Mr. Lindner and buy the house shows why blacks stood up for themselves and their rights during the Civil Rights Movement. Hansberry is saying that in order to move along in life we all must face obstacles, but it is up to us whether or not we look past the obstacle and move along. In this case Hansberry demonstrates that we must look past the obstacle by facing it and then overcoming it. This attitude of standing up for oneself was used frequently during the Civil Rights movement.

Embodiment of the Period

This play captures the spirit of the Civil Rights movements because it shows how a black family lived during the time period of the movement. It also teaches moral lessons that were used during the Civil Rights movement, such as chasing your dreams, sticking with your family, facing racial discrimination in a positive way, and even the search for racial identity.

The biggest motivator of the Civil Rights movement was the dream for blacks to be treated equally. Everyone put aside their own personal dreams to come together and achieve the bigger dream. This concept is what "A Raisin in the Sun" was structured. The Younger family was motivated by their own personal goals, but in order to get what everyone truly wanted, they had to place aside their dreams and work together.