Negritude poetry was born out of the Negritude movement of the 1930s and 1940s in Paris, France. It was a literary and intellectual movement driven by French-speaking African and Caribbean writers and intellectuals living in Paris. Negritude literature was greatly influenced by the Harlem Renaissance in New York City in the 1920s. With that, Negritude poetry often dealt with politics and identity through the lens of descendants of Africa. Negritude poetry was about African culture, identity, and essential pride in what was referred to as “blackness.” Negritude poetry attempted to dispel prejudice, discrimination, and oppressive ideologies targeted towards black people through writing. There was hope that through poetry and through the writing of the Negritude movement, there would be a new racial consciousness for those that were willing to listen.
A great example of Negritude poetry comes from Leopold Senghor. In his poem entitled “Black Woman,” he meditates on the beauty of African women. The poem is a visceral example of identity and pride, highlighting the beauty that African women hold.
Naked woman, black woman,
I sing your beauty that passes, the form
that I fix in the Eternal,
Before jealous fate turn you to ashes to
feed the roots of life.
This is, poetically, a beautiful sentiment. On the larger scale, Senghor is highlighting the beauty of a race of women that was marginalized and discriminated by colonialism in Africa. African women were often judged for the way that they looked and the fact that they did not look like the European colonial women coming into Africa. Senghor fought this notion and made the argument that black women are not only beautiful, but eternal in a way that is connected to the Earth.