Langston Hughes, in his short poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers, utilized this concept to generalize not just being American, but the overall human experience throughout history.
Hughes’ poem effectively related shared cultural and historical events to promote an integrated lineage among not just blacks and whites, but all races.
The effectiveness of Hughes poem stems from the fact that he utilized cultural elements on a broad scope to relate to whites.
Indeed, recent scholarship suggests that an effective tool in literature is the cultural element.
Langston Hughes is widely considered one of the best poets who ever walked the earth.
Many of his themes focused on the issues that were confronting the nation: race, equality and suffrage.The essential premise is that sharing common experiences promotes a sense of unity in a certain sense.To exemplify, just as German and French soldiers fought in the trenches during WWII, they still shared the common experience of war.For instance, ancient cultures built their civilizations around rivers and bodies of water because they were ideal habitats for fostering continuous life within large groups of humans.In relation, the blood in human bodies makes life possible to sustain by keeping the organism alive as blood is constantly pumped throughout the body.The racism associated with African-Americans was a general experience that persisted even after the abolishment of slavery.One effective means of alleviating racial stereotyping was relating African-Americans to whites within the same context of being American citizens.“I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins” remarked Hughes (Hughes, 1707).Under the theme of life, this quote suggests that rivers and human blood flowing are both a timeless and essential human experience throughout history.In Birth, Rebirth, and the “New Negro” of the 1920’s, Gregory Singleton argued that Harlem Renaissance literature was effective because it drew on historical events related to blacks and whites.The shared heritage of American History was the key point in promoting unity despite the perceived differences among blacks and whites.