The Legacy of Langston Hughes
African American poet, Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902 in Joplin Missouri. Hughes was not only a poet he was also a social activists, novelists, and columnist. Hughes struggled with abandonment and loneliness from his parents growing up. He was later raised by his grandmother in Kansas and later moved to New York City to start his career. Later, Hughes graduated from High School and attended Columbia University. He studied briefly for a year and soon became apart of a movement called Harlem Burgeoning which is known as the Harlem Renaissance.
In 1922 Hughes decided to give college a break. He worked numerous of jobs around the New York City area until he signed up to work a job that required him to travel to Africa and Spain. In 1925 he met a poet by the name of Vachel Lindsay while working as a busboy. Lindsay was impressed with Hughes work so much that his work was introduced and published to a wider audience. “Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play”. (Hughes) “The Weary Blues” was a poem Hughes wrote in 1925. The poem won first prize in the Opportunity Magazine Literary Competition. Therefore, he received a scholarship to Lincoln University. While studying at Lincoln, Hughes was granted the opportunity to meet Carl Van Vechten. Vechten granted connection to get Hughes first book of poetry, “The Weary Blues” off the ground in 1926. Langston Hughes was inspired by other American poets which inspired him to write. After living with his father for the summer in Mexico City, he was also uninspired by his father who wasn’t quite fond of his writing.
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Hughes life growing up wasn’t the best. Hughes was all about equal piece and bringing the races together. He published a book of short series called “The Ways of White Folk” (Hughes) in regards of hoping to bring the races together and stop tension between the two. Hughes life was reflected many was in his writing. From discouragement by his father Hughes never gave up on what he loved. “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly”. (Hughes) Langston Hughes played an important role in The Harlem Renaissance. He amended the black communities to come together and fight segregation and to never give up on what they wanted. One of Hughes popular poems “Harlem” answers questions people might have about their dreams and what may become if the dream is put off. “What happens to a dream deferred, does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore – and then run? (Hughes) Hughes style of writing was different from the normal. His writing style had jazz and blue styles to make readers connect and vibe. Through his poetry he told a story about the racists world he lived in. He enjoyed writing poems about the life and struggles of the black lives. He wanted peace and justice for the African American culture. Langston Hughes played a important role in the Harlem Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance was a social explosion in Harlem. After Langston Hughes grandmother passed and moving to a dozen cities when he was a boy. He wrote the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”. “My soul has grown deep like the rivers”. (Hughes) The poem is told in third person and describes him being a black man. Hughes began writing plays, one of his plays called “Mulatto” (1932) from one of his short stories. The play premiered on Broadway in 1935. Hughes began writing many other things from poems to books to plays to opera music that premiered in 1947. The gospel play “Black Nativity” used Hughes poetry to tell the birth of jesus in a new way. It soon became a success and was used all across the country and played during Easter and Christmas holidays in black churches. Hughes was the first black writer to earn his name and work through his writing. He was a man of his word and everyone knew his by his work. Hughes never let the criticism stand in his way and stop him from doing what he loved. His writing inspired many. Hughes was became known as the “Poet Laureate of Harlem” in the 1920s. One of Hughes famous poems was written after he was denied access onto a ship because of the color of his skin. The poem was called “I, Too”, it told that he is American as well. That was a jumpstart on his protest against racial inequality. “…. Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed—”. (Hughes) Hughes describes in the poem even though he is black he too is an American just like everyone else. That next time company comes he will eat at the table, and not be told what to do. Hughes poetry speaks to not only blacks. It speaks to the community.
Hughes work made people look at society different. His work inspired people to turn their dreams into reality and to never give up. Hughes worked shape American Literature and politics today. Langston Hughes died May 22, 1967. In 2009, Hughes had a High School named after him located in Fairburn, Georgia. In remembrance, and appreciation to him, and the impact he has made on the culture.