Jacob Lawrence Depiction of Harlem


Panel 60 in “The Great Migration” series

Harlem, a neighborhood of cultural diversity and immense pride in their heritage was, at times, a tumultuous place to be.  Jacob Lawrence is an American artist that displayed the up and coming attitude of this previously displaced peoples inhabiting mid 20th century Harlem.  Lawrence lived during the Great Migration, the Great Depression, and the Harlem Renaissance.  Lawrence became a storyteller of the motifs that made Harlem breathe.  Jacob Lawrence is most well-known for paintings depicting the struggles of the black suffrage.  He sprung into the limelight after debuting his work called The Migration Series in 1941.  This collection of pieces gave Lawrence fame in what seemed to be a matter of weeks.

Jacob Lawrence portrayed the strife of the African American migrants from the south.  His meticulously crafted modernistic paintings to show how the fruit of the Great Migration was not bared immediately by the residents of Harlem.  They had to fight for their civil rights and for their respect in society.  Housing was a serious problem, as Lawrence showed us in And the Migrants Keep Coming.  The migration left the south in huge numbers, this meant they arrived with great numbers.  Thus leaving the neighborhood of Harlem to be grappled on by the supposed leaders of the area.  Corruption and guilt filled the streets of Harlem for some time, this gave the area character while also making it a place where change could be sprouted with the help of the right people.  That is how Jacob Lawrence improved Harlem with his modernistic painting.  He brought out a medium for people to formulate their thoughts.


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