Research Paper on Harlem Renaissance: A Time of Change for African Americans

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1216 Words
Date:  2023-01-30


The Harlem Renaissance is one of the renowned periods in American history. The period saw a change in the social setting in not only the Harlem neighborhood but the entire United States. Before the era, African Americans had gone through a lot of suffering. The suffering witnessed was under the discrimination of whites in the country. However, due to increased activism whereby the African Americans realized that they were equal to the whites despite their skin color, a push to change the social system commenced. The Harlem Renaissance struggled a lot during the time of its conception, owing to the pessimistic nature of the African American community. After more activism, people gained the courage to push for reform by seeking parliamentary representation and street demonstrations. Eventually, the movement was a success. Toni Morrison is one of the widely recognized American writers that focused on issues relating to the Harlem Renaissance. Provided the fact that Toni was born around the time when the renaissance was at the peak means that she has better insight on the matter. In her book, "Jazz," Toni clearly explains issues relating to the renaissance while comparing them to the theme of Jazz, which is rather impeccable.

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Research Question

How was the Harlem Renaissance reflected in Toni Morrison's 1992 Novel, "Jazz?"

Research Methodology

It was critical to incorporate qualitative secondary research in explaining the relationship between the Harlem Renaissance and Toni Morrison's book. Comprehending the fact that the book was written in the year 1992 and provided that the author is an African American born at around the time of the renaissance makes it more credible as a source of information. Getting a hardcopy of the book was not easy, and the best means through which one can gain information on the resistance was getting an online copy. The book has since been re-edited, but the content has remained unchanged to show the original ideas of the author. Using this book as a source of information is crucial in the understanding of this dark era that the African American community went through.

Literature Review/Document Sources

At the beginning of the novel, Toni introduces an African American family, which is only right given that the African Americans were at the center of the renaissance. She begins by explaining the struggles that the family faced attempting to get a decent employment job and food. Relating to the Harlem Renaissance, the period saw numerous African Americans segregated employment; they would be forced to work far from their families (Morrison, 1993). Many of the men did not want to leave their families despite the need to provide for them. Some men sacrificed the need to get jobs and remained home to take care of their loved ones. Per the information presented in the book, the families suffered greatly.

Another manner that the Harlem Renaissance is described in the book Jazz is that the African American community was a "City." Identifying the community as a city within a city just showed how the society looked down upon these people. Looking down on the community meant that these people were less important as compared to the whites in a particular era. It is also crucial to note that referring to the community as a city is a means to portray that these people were different (Morrison, 1993). Assuming that these people were different led to failure to consider the group of the group.

Toni Morrison further identifies the fact that the era of this renaissance gained recognition as the "Age of Prosperity." The reason for deeming the era as the "Age of Prosperity" is the fact that the United States had just come from the First World War and was at a point where it was redeeming itself efficiently. However, Toni identifies that the African American community did not feel any progress, given that it continued suffering under the hands of their white colleagues (Morrison, 1993). Regardless of the problems that the African American community endured, the whites did not even attempt to assist them in any way.

Toni Morrison describes a point in time when African Americans had to migrate to different areas owing to the aspect of discrimination in the various places that they resided in the United States. Toni identifies that people moved south and north to see to it that they could find pleasant places to live. Most of the people that engaged in the "Great Migration" moved to Harlem in New York (Morrison, 1993). Toni further identifies the fact that movement to this area represented the African American community combining with other black people that lived in the neighborhood. Through the combination of these two separate groups, it was possible to achieve independence and decreased discrimination through a movement.

The movement that Toni Morrison depicts in her book is that of a progressive community. The community seeks to show members that they have an equal right to the other members of the community regardless of their skin tone. The movement goes by the title Harlem Renaissance. The depiction from the novel has the reader appreciating efforts made by African Americans in fighting for their rights

An example of a character presented in Toni Morrison's work is Joe Trace. The figure in the book has a leading role. It is possible to note the pain that he was going through owing to the murder of his young lover (Morrison, 1993). The young love was murdered at a time when there were demonstrations in the streets of Harlem. The particular identification of this murder directly shows how the book directly reflects on the events that took place in the United States during the Harlem Renaissance.

Statement of Significance and Importance

It is significant to go through comparison and a reflection of how Toni Morrison's work reflects on the Harlem Renaissance. Many scholars in the contemporary environment do not understand their history and the consequent of this is their living freely without acknowledging their past. Reflecting on this book and the points that it offers with relation to the Harlem Renaissance is critical in ensuring that people appreciate their history and note the key actions carried out by members of the African American community in the quest for freedom.

Another significance of reflecting on the book "Jazz" in relation to the Harlem Renaissance is that it assists people to prevent the occurrence of such an event again. A period prevalent with discrimination owing to the ignorance of the white community. Ensuring that people in the school system go through facts and reason relating to the Harlem Renaissance offers them strict discipline and can ensure that students in the current environment lead more efficient lives acknowledging that all human beings are equal.


Toni Morrison offers a detailed account of the events that took place during the Harlem Renaissance and does this by incorporating the aspect of Jazz. The varying moods and actions of people in the renaissance are reflected in her work where it is possible to note that some aspects in the book where there are struggles for freedom a somber mood prevail. In the case where there are chaos and demonstrations, there is the change of tune while reading the book much more so like how these alternate when listening to classical jazz music.


Morrison, T. (1993). Jazz. 1992. London: Picador.

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