A turning to Africa on the parts of some African Americans was an understandable direction in which to seek.The formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), with Du Bois at the helm, posited a slightly more aggressive quest for equal rights for persons of African descent and a pride within African American communities that had not had previous outlets for full expression.
Delany spent a brief period in Liberia (1859-60), while Crummell spent almost twenty years there as a minister and professor (1853-1873). Washington, who was the most revered African American leader in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, blacks began to look for sources of pride that did not locate their origins in America slavery.
What was a minor strand in post-Civil War African American identity formation expanded to a broader connection as descendants of freed blacks began to think in the early twentieth century about themselves in relation to America and the world. They got rid of what poet Eugene Redmond has described as a “shore to shore” mentality, that is, identifying with African American history only from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, that is, within the borders of the continental United States.
Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude Mc Kay, Alain Locke, and Gwendolyn Bennett were among Harlem Renaissance writers who found Africa appealing.
For Hughes, it reflected his unprecedented appreciation of blackness.
In the 1920s, however, writers and artists were a bit more tentative in their assertions. While some writers, such as Langston Hughes, traveled to Africa (Hughes did so in 1923 when he was 21), many others never made the trip.
Their efforts to claim African identity, therefore, were rooted more in imagination and reading knowledge than in actual facts.Though he has been born in the West, as a descendant of Africans he is nonetheless a child of nature, one who is led to “doff” his Christian, civilized ways and dance wildly whenever it rains.His heathen emotional inclinations, he maintains, make it hard for his “heart and head” to realize that “they and [he] are civilized.” Africa as the perceived dark continent and America as part of western civilization provides the generalized clash that shapes African American representations of Africa during the Harlem Renaissance.African American writers were also not immune to notions of dark Africa that Joseph Conrad popularized in Heart of Darkness (1902).That conception is apparent in Countee Cullen’s “Heritage,” which is a classic poem about Africa from a Harlem Renaissance writer. Retrieved from https://search.credoreference.com/content/topic/harlem_renaissance Ryan, Barbara. "Harlem Renaissance." In Encyclopedia of American Studies, edited by Simon Bronner. https://search.credoreference.com/content/topic/harlem_renaissance Ryan, B. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/topic/harlem_renaissance. Due to the mixing of peoples of various African cultures and languages on slave ships as well as in the Americas, blacks lost all significant ties, it was believed, to their African cultures.While Herskovits was certainly a pioneer in attempting to re-establish African American cultural connections to Africa, his work can be viewed as the researched and scientific counterpart to a romantic and literary impulse that many African American authors followed during the Harlem Renaissance, that period of flowering of African American art and writing that took place primarily during the decade of the 1920s.Then, strange supernatural forces reduce him to a sputtering, superstitious, raging wild man.For all his military discipline, power, and perfect speech, Brutus Jones is finally nothing more a savage whom nature has shrouded with a veneer of civilization.