After reading works from Margaret Walker, Ralph Ellison, and Ann Petry, one short story stuck out in my mind. The Street by Ann Petry was a short story about a young girl living in Harlem looking for an apartment. The glamour and the creative ingenuity that we previously studied about Harlem were not present in this young girl’s life. This time period from 1940-1960 known as Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism was a very different style then the Harlem Renaissance. This literature did not have the “call” to African Americans to rise up and claim its cultural identity. This literature was more… “real” with stories of the continued hardships. The Street portrayed images that were dirty, grimy, and unkept. The main character in the short story described her home life – with her father’s many abusive girlfriends and numerous roommates. This girl was so desperate to leave and move out on her own, that she was willing to live in a dilapidated, small dirty apartment with (I assumed) her brother. Our character said she would rather live in a place of that, than to continue in a loveless environment.
I really enjoyed the Reflecting Circle group’s presentation of this time period. The different elements of the power point, videos, and actually hearing the voices of these authors helped to bring this presentation to life. I did not know about the Black Panther, Islam, or Communists groups that found refuge and flourished in Harlem. I found the biographical information of the authors interesting because different influences always led them to express themselves through literature. Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun which was one of the longest plays to remain on Broadway. There was also a poem We Real Cool, which Gwendolyn Brooks wrote one day walking by a pool hall. She saw a group of kids playing pool instead of being in school, and instead of asking the question why, she wondered what the teenagers actually thought of themselves. Her last line in the poem is “We die soon”. Her message is clear to the younger generation – don’t settle and push yourselves to receive an education.