Most poets tend to identify with a particular style or era of poetry. As a poet myself, I’ve always subconsciously identified with any poetic form that helped me tell the story of my community through my own experiences with race, social justice, love and relationships, and my life being a women. As a result, I have always strongly identified with The Harlem Renaissance with the likes of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and others of that era.
However, not knowing much about this poetic movement called “The Negritude Movement“, I find that, even without knowing, I easily identify with this group of poets, even though most of them were French-speaking and some from the continent of
Africa. I strongly identify with some of the poetic themes in Negritude for Black Americans to escape a country (America) that didn’t provide them equal rights. We saw this “escapism” with many poets who fled to Europe, in particular Paris, France where they found a sort of freedom to be liberal and recognized and appreciated for their talents and the ability to speak freely about the plight of their people back home in America. People try to discount that racism still exists daily just because we now have a Black President, however, poets still write poetry about a struggle because the struggle will never go away. Perhaps another “Negritude” movement is in order so that writers can create a new language for freedom. Read below an excerpt from www.poets.org about the Negritude Movement and a poem from one of the movement’s most well-known poets, Leopold Sedar Senghor and a portion of his fantastic poem, Elegy (for Martin Luther King).
(Excerpt from www.poets.org): Negritude was both a literary and ideological movement led by French-speaking black writers and intellectuals. The movement is marked by its rejection of European colonization and its role in the African diaspora, pride in “blackness” and traditional African values and culture, mixed with an undercurrent of Marxist ideals. Its founders (or les trois pères), Aimé Césaire, Leopold Sedare Senghor, and Leon Gontran Domas, met while studying in Paris in 1931 and began to publish the first journal devoted to Negritude, L’Étudiant noir (The Black Student), in 1934.
The term “Negritude” was coined by Césaire in his Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (1939) and it means, in his words, “the simple recognition of the fact that one is black, the acceptance of this fact and of our destiny as blacks, of our history and culture.” Even in its beginnings Negritude was truly an international movement–drawing inspiration from the flowering of African-American culture brought about by the writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance while asserting its place in the canon of French literature, glorifying the traditions of the African continent, and attracting participants in the colonized countries of the Caribbean, North Africa, and Latin America.
Leopold Sédar Senghor. Senegal (1906-2001).
Elegy for Martin Luther King (IV of V) (for jazz orchestra)
It was the fourth of April, nineteen hundred and sixty-eight,
(excerpt from http://web.uflib.ufl.edu/cm/africana/senghor.htm)
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- Haitian Black History: Author & Diplomat Jean Price-Mars (lunionsuite.com)
- february cafe, 28 days of black creativity: the harlem renaissance – countee cullen (grownupcreativitymagazine.wordpress.com)
- february cafe, 28 days of black creativity: Happy Birthday Langston Hughes, My favorite Poet (grownupcreativitymagazine.wordpress.com)