Langston Hughes
Overview
James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry
Jazz poetry
Jazz poetry is poetry that "demonstrates jazz-like rhythm or the feel of improvisation". During the 1920s, several poets began to eschew the conventions of rhythm and style; among these were Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and E. E. Cummings...

. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke...

. He famously wrote about the period that "Harlem was in vogue."
Both of Hughes' paternal and maternal great-grandmothers were African-American, his maternal great-grandfather was white and of Scottish descent.
Quotations

I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong.

"I, Too, Sing America," in the magazine Survey Graphic (March 1925); reprinted in Selected Poems (1959)

They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed — I, too, am America.

"I, Too, Sing America," in the magazine Survey Graphic (March 1925); reprinted in Selected Poems (1959)

The night is beautiful,So are the faces of my people.

"My People," in the magazine Poems in Crisis (October 1923); reprinted in The Weary Blues (1926)

I've known rivers: I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers," from The Weary Blues (1926)

I've known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers," from The Weary Blues (1926)

The stars went out and so did the moon.The singer stopped playing and went to bedWhile the Weary Blues echoed through his head.He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.

"The Weary Blues," from The Weary Blues (1926)

Way Down South in Dixie(Break the heart of me)They hung my black young loverTo a cross roads tree.

"Song for a Dark Girl" (l. 1-4), from Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927)

Love is a naked shadowOn a gnarled and naked tree.

Song for a Dark Girl (l. 11-12), from Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927)

While over Alabama earthThese words are gently spoken:Serve — and hate will die unborn.Love — and chains are broken.

"Alabama Earth (at Booker Washington's grave)," from the anthology Golden Slippers: An Anthology of Negro Poetry for Young Readers (1941), ed. Arna Bontemps

Hold fast to dreamsFor if dreams dieLife is a broken-winged birdThat cannot fly.

"Dreams," from the anthology Golden Slippers: An Anthology of Negro Poetry for Young Readers, ed. Arna Bontemps (1941)

Encyclopedia
James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry
Jazz poetry
Jazz poetry is poetry that "demonstrates jazz-like rhythm or the feel of improvisation". During the 1920s, several poets began to eschew the conventions of rhythm and style; among these were Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and E. E. Cummings...

. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke...

. He famously wrote about the period that "Harlem was in vogue."

Ancestry and childhood

Both of Hughes' paternal and maternal great-grandmothers were African-American, his maternal great-grandfather was white and of Scottish descent. A paternal great-grandfather was of European Jewish descent. Hughes's maternal grandmother Mary Patterson was of African-American, French, English and Native American descent. One of the first women to attend Oberlin College
Oberlin College
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. Connected to the college is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating...

, she first married Lewis Sheridan Leary
Lewis Sheridan Leary
Lewis Sheridan Leary , an African-American harnessmaker from Oberlin, Ohio, joined John Brown's unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, where he was killed. He was the first husband of Mary Patterson...

, also of mixed race. Lewis Sheridan Leary
Lewis Sheridan Leary
Lewis Sheridan Leary , an African-American harnessmaker from Oberlin, Ohio, joined John Brown's unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, where he was killed. He was the first husband of Mary Patterson...

 subsequently joined John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859 and died from his wounds.

In 1869 the widow Mary Patterson Leary married again, into the elite, politically active Langston family. Her second husband was Charles Henry Langston
Charles Henry Langston
Charles Henry Langston , an American abolitionist and political activist born free in Louisa County, Virginia, was one of two men tried after the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, a cause célèbre in 1858 Ohio that helped gain impetus for abolition. In 1835 he was one of the first blacks admitted to...

, of African American, Native American, and Euro-American ancestry. He and his younger brother John Mercer Langston
John Mercer Langston
John Mercer Langston was an American abolitionist, attorney, educator, and political activist. He was the first dean of the law school at Howard University and helped create the department. He was the first president of what is now Virginia State University. In 1888 he was the first African...

 worked for the abolitionist cause and helped lead the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society in 1858. Charles Langston later moved to Kansas, where he was active as an educator and activist for voting and rights for African Americans. Charles and Mary's daughter Caroline was the mother of Langston Hughes.

Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri
Joplin, Missouri
Joplin is a city in southern Jasper County and northern Newton County in the southwestern corner of the US state of Missouri. Joplin is the largest city in Jasper County, though it is not the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 50,150...

, the second child of school teacher Carrie (Caroline) Mercer Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes (1871–1934). Langston Hughes grew up in a series of Midwestern small towns.

Hughes's father left his family and later divorced Carrie, going to Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, and then Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, seeking to escape the enduring racism in the United States. After the separation of his parents, while his mother travelled seeking employment, young Langston Hughes was raised mainly by his maternal grandmother, Mary Patterson Langston, in Lawrence, Kansas. Through the black American oral tradition and drawing from the activist experiences of her generation, Mary Langston instilled in the young Langston Hughes a lasting sense of racial pride. He spent most of his childhood in Lawrence
Lawrence, Kansas
Lawrence is the sixth largest city in the U.S. State of Kansas and the county seat of Douglas County. Located in northeastern Kansas, Lawrence is the anchor city of the Lawrence, Kansas, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Douglas County...

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

. After the death of his grandmother, he went to live with family friends, James and Mary Reed, for two years. Because of the unstable early life, his childhood was not an entirely happy one, but it strongly influenced the poet he would become. Later, Hughes lived again with his mother Carrie in Lincoln
Lincoln, Illinois
Lincoln is a city in Logan County, Illinois, United States. It is the only town in the United States that was named for Abraham Lincoln before he became president; he practiced law there from 1847 to 1859. First settled in the 1830s, Lincoln is home to three colleges and two prisons. The three...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

. She had remarried when he was still an adolescent, and eventually they lived in Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, where he attended high school. The Hughes' home in Cleveland was sold in foreclosure in 1918; the 2.5-story, wood-frame house on the city's east side was sold at a sheriff's auction in February for $16,667.

While in grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

 in Lincoln, Hughes was elected class poet. Hughes stated that in retrospect he thought it was because of the stereotype that African Americans have rhythm. "I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everyone knows, except us, that all Negroes have rhythm, so they elected me as class poet." During high school in Cleveland, Ohio, he wrote for the school newspaper, edited the yearbook, and began to write his first short stories, poetry, and dramatic plays. His first piece of jazz poetry, "When Sue Wears Red", was written while he was in high school. It was during this time that he discovered his love of books. From this early period in his life, Hughes would cite as influences on his poetry the American poets Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar was a seminal African American poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 "Ode to Ethiopia", one poem in the collection Lyrics of Lowly Life....

 and Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and another for a biography of Abraham Lincoln. H. L. Mencken called Carl Sandburg "indubitably an American in every pulse-beat."-Biography:Sandburg was born in Galesburg,...

.

Relationship with father

Hughes had a very poor relationship with his father. He lived with his father in Mexico for a brief period in 1919. Upon graduating from high school in June 1920, Hughes returned to Mexico to live with his father, hoping to convince him to support Langston's plan to attend Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. Hughes later said that, prior to arriving in Mexico: "I had been thinking about my father and his strange dislike of his own people. I didn't understand it, because I was a Negro, and I liked Negroes very much." Initially, his father had hoped for Hughes to attend a university abroad, and to study for a career in engineering. On these grounds, he was willing to provide financial assistance to his son but did not support his desire to be a writer. Eventually, Hughes and his father came to a compromise: Hughes would study engineering, so long as he could attend Columbia. His tuition provided; Hughes left his father after more than a year. While at Columbia in 1921, Hughes managed to maintain a B+ grade average. He left in 1922 because of racial prejudice, and his interests revolved more around the neighbourhood of Harlem
Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

 than his studies, though he continued writing poetry.

Adulthood

Hughes worked various odd jobs, before serving a brief tenure as a crewman
Crewman
Crewman is a generic term for a crew member of an aircraft, naval vessel, military unit, or team of professionals attempting to accomplish a goal. In some science fiction , Crewman is the lowest military rank on board a spacecraft.The term "Crewman" may also be related in the non-gender specific...

 aboard the S.S. Malone in 1923, spending six months traveling to West Africa and Europe. In Europe, Hughes left the S.S. Malone for a temporary stay in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

.

During his time in England in the early 1920s, Hughes became part of the black expatriate community. In November 1924, Hughes returned to the U. S. to live with his mother in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 Hughes worked at various odd jobs before gaining a white-collar job in 1925 as a personal assistant to the historian Carter G. Woodson
Carter G. Woodson
Carter Godwin Woodson was an African-American historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Woodson was one of the first scholars to study African American history. A founder of Journal of Negro History , Dr...

 at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History
Association for the Study of African American Life and History
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History is an organization dedicated to the study and appreciation of African-American History. It is a non-profit organization founded in Chicago, Illinois, on September 9, 1915 and incorporated in Washington, D.C. on October 2, 1915 as...

. As the work demands limited his time for writing, Hughes quit the position to work as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel. There he encountered the poet Vachel Lindsay
Vachel Lindsay
Nicholas Vachel Lindsay was an American poet. He is considered the father of modern singing poetry, as he referred to it, in which verses are meant to be sung or chanted...

, with whom he shared some poems. Impressed with the poems, Lindsay publicized his discovery of a new black poet. By this time, Hughes's earlier work had been published in magazines and was about to be collected into his first book of poetry.

The following year, Hughes enrolled in Lincoln University
Lincoln University (Pennsylvania)
Lincoln University is the United States' first degree-granting historically black university. It is located near the town of Oxford in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. The university also hosts a Center for Graduate Studies in the City of Philadelphia. Lincoln University provides...

, a historically black university
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Historically black colleges and universities are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community....

 in Chester County, Pennsylvania
Chester County, Pennsylvania
-State parks:*French Creek State Park*Marsh Creek State Park*White Clay Creek Preserve-Demographics:As of the 2010 census, the county was 85.5% White, 6.1% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaskan Native, 3.9% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian, 1.8% were two or more races, and 2.4% were...

. He joined the Omega Psi Phi
Omega Psi Phi
Omega Psi Phi is a fraternity and is the first African-American national fraternal organization to be founded at a historically black college. Omega Psi Phi was founded on November 17, 1911, at Howard University in Washington, D.C.. The founders were three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos...

 fraternity. Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991...

, who later became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are the members of the Supreme Court of the United States other than the Chief Justice of the United States...

, was an alumnus
Alumnus
An alumnus , according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is "a graduate of a school, college, or university." An alumnus can also be a former member, employee, contributor or inmate as well as a former student. In addition, an alumna is "a female graduate or former student of a school, college,...

 and classmate of Langston Hughes during his undergraduate studies at Lincoln University.

After Hughes earned a B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree from Lincoln University in 1929, he returned to New York. Except for travels to the Soviet Union and parts of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, Hughes lived in Harlem as his primary home for the remainder of his life. During the 1930s, Hughes became a resident of Westfield, New Jersey
Westfield, New Jersey
Westfield is a town in Union County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the town population was 30,316. The old village area, now the downtown district, was settled in 1720 as part of the Elizabethtown Tract....

.

Some academics and biographers today believe that Hughes was homosexual and included homosexual codes in many of his poems, similar in manner to Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse...

. Hughes has cited him as an influence on his poetry. Hughes's story "Blessed Assurance" deals with a father's anger over his son's effeminacy and "queerness". To retain the respect and support of black churches and organizations and avoid exacerbating his precarious financial situation, Hughes remained closeted.

Arnold Rampersad
Arnold Rampersad
Arnold Rampersad is a biographer and literary critic. The first volume of his Life Of Langston Hughes was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He was born in Trinidad and Tobago....

, the primary biographer of Hughes, determined that Hughes exhibited a preference for other African-American men in his work and life. However, Rampersad denies Hughes's homosexuality in his biography. Rampersad concludes that Hughes was probably asexual and passive in his sexual relationships. He did, however show a respect and love for his fellow black man (and woman). Other scholars argue for Hughes's homosexuality: his love of black men is evidenced in a number of reported unpublished poems to an alleged black male lover.

Death

On May 22, 1967, Hughes died from complications after abdominal surgery, related to prostate cancer
Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers. The cancer cells may metastasize from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly...

, at the age of 65. His ashes are interred beneath a floor medallion in the middle of the foyer in the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. It is the entrance to an auditorium named for him. The design on the floor covering his ashes is an African cosmogram
Cosmogram
A cosmogram is a flat geometric figure depicting a cosmology. Some of them were created for meditational purpose. Mandalas are the best known cosmograms, but similar diagrams, known as schema, were also used in western Europe during the Middle Ages....

 titled Rivers. The title is taken from his poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is a poem by American writer Langston Hughes.-Composition and publication history:Langston Hughes wrote the poem on an envelope while traveling by train to Mexico as he crossed the Mississippi River to St. Louis. "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" was first published in The...

". Within the center of the cosmogram, above his ashes, is the line: "My soul has grown deep like the rivers".

Career

First published in The Crisis
The Crisis
The Crisis is the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People , and was founded in 1910 by W. E. B. Du Bois , Oswald Garrison Villard, J. Max Barber, Charles Edward Russell, Kelly Miller, W.S. Braithwaite, M. D. Maclean.The original title of the journal was...

 in 1921, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers", which became Hughes's signature poem, was collected in his first book of poetry The Weary Blues (1926). Hughes's life and work were enormously influential during the Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke...

 of the 1920s, alongside those of his contemporaries, Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance...

, Wallace Thurman
Wallace Thurman
Wallace Henry Thurman was an American novelist during the Harlem Renaissance. He is best known for his novel The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life, which explores discrimination among black people based on skin color.-Early life:...

, Claude McKay
Claude McKay
Claude McKay was a Jamaican-American writer and poet. He was a seminal figure in the Harlem Renaissance and wrote three novels: Home to Harlem , a best-seller which won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, Banjo , and Banana Bottom...

, Countee Cullen
Countee Cullen
Countee Cullen was an American poet who was popular during the Harlem Renaissance.- Biography :Cullen was an American poet and a leading figure with Langston Hughes in the Harlem Renaissance. This 1920s artistic movement produced the first large body of work in the United States written by African...

, Richard Bruce Nugent
Richard Bruce Nugent
Richard Bruce Nugent , aka Richard Bruce and Bruce Nugent, was a writer and painter in the Harlem Renaissance.-Biography:...

, and Aaron Douglas
Aaron Douglas
Aaron Douglas was an African American painter and a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance.-Early life:...

. Except for McKay, they worked together also to create the short-lived magazine Fire!! Devoted to Younger Negro Artists.
Hughes and his contemporaries had different goals and aspirations than the black middle class. They criticized men who were known as the midwives of the Harlem Renaissance: W. E. B. Du Bois, Jessie Redmon Fauset
Jessie Redmon Fauset
Jessie Redmon Fauset was an American editor, poet, essayist and novelist. Fauset was most known for being the editor of the NAACP magazine the Crisis. She also was the editor and co-author for the African American children magazine called Brownies' Book...

, and Alain LeRoy Locke
Alain LeRoy Locke
Alain LeRoy Locke was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. He is best known for his writings on and about the Harlem Renaissance. He is regarded as the "Father of the Harlem Renaissance"...

, as being overly accommodating and assimilating eurocentric values and culture for social equality. Hughes and his fellows tried to depict the "low-life" in their art, that is, the real lives of blacks in the lower social-economic strata. They criticized the divisions and prejudices based on skin color within the black community. Hughes wrote what would be considered the manifesto published in The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

 in 1926,

"The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain"
The younger Negro artists who create now intend to express
our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame.
If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not,
it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too.
The tom-tom cries, and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people
are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure
doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow,
strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain
free within ourselves.


Hughes was unashamedly black at a time when blackness was démodé. He stressed the theme of "black is beautiful" as he explored the black human condition in a variety of depths. His main concern was the uplift of his people, whose strengths, resiliency, courage, and humor he wanted to record as part of the general American experience. His poetry and fiction portrayed the lives of the working class blacks in America, lives he portrayed as full of struggle, joy, laughter, and music. Permeating his work is pride in the African-American identity and its diverse culture. "My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America and obliquely that of all human kind," Hughes is quoted as saying. He confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and expanded African America’s image of itself; a “people’s poet” who sought to reeducate both audience and artist by lifting the theory of the black aesthetic into reality. An expression of this is the poem "My People":


The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

Hughes stressed a racial consciousness and cultural nationalism devoid of self-hate that united people of African descent and Africa across the globe and encouraged pride in their diverse black folk culture and black aesthetic. Hughes was one of the few black writers of any consequence to champion racial consciousness as a source of inspiration for black artists. His African-American race consciousness and cultural nationalism would influence many foreign black writers, such as Jacques Roumain
Jacques Roumain
Jacques Roumain was a Haitian writer, politician, and advocate of Communism. He is considered one of the most prominent figures in Haitian literature. Although poorly known in the English-speaking world, Roumain has significant following in Europe, and is renowned in the Caribbean and Latin America...

, Nicolás Guillén
Nicolás Guillén
Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista was a Cuban poet, journalist, political activist, and writer. He is best remembered as the national poet of Cuba.Guillén was born in Camagüey, Cuba...

, Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor was a Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who for two decades served as the first president of Senegal . Senghor was the first African elected as a member of the Académie française. Before independence, he founded the political party called the Senegalese...

, and Aimé Césaire
Aimé Césaire
Aimé Fernand David Césaire was a French poet, author and politician from Martinique. He was "one of the founders of the négritude movement in Francophone literature".-Student, educator, and poet:...

. Along with the works of Senghor, Césaire, and other French-speaking writers of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and of African descent from the Caribbean, such as René Maran
René Maran
René Maran was a French Guyanese poet and novelist, and the first black writer to win the French Prix Goncourt .-Biography:...

 from Martinique
Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

 and Léon Damas
Léon Damas
Léon-Gontran Damas was a French poet and politician. He was one of the founders of the Négritude movement.-Biography:...

 from French Guiana
French Guiana
French Guiana is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department located on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. It has borders with two nations, Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west...

 in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, the works of Hughes helped to inspire the Négritude
Négritude
Négritude is a literary and ideological movement, developed by francophone black intellectuals, writers, and politiciansin France in the 1930s by a group that included the future Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor, Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, and the Guianan Léon Damas.The Négritude...

 movement in France. A radical black self-examination was emphasized in the face of European colonialism. In addition to his example in social attitudes, Hughes had an important technical influence by his emphasis on folk and jazz rhythms as the basis of his poetry of racial pride.

In 1930, his first novel, Not Without Laughter
Not Without Laughter
Not Without Laughter is a novel written by Langston Hughes and published in 1930. It is Hughes' first novel, and first major work of prose.-Plot introduction:...

, won the Harmon Gold Medal for literature. The protagonist of the story is a boy named Sandy, whose family must deal with a variety of struggles due to their race and class, in addition to relating to one another. Maxim Lieber
Maxim Lieber
Maxim Lieber was a prominent American literary agent in New York City during the 1930s and 1940s. Whittaker Chambers named him as an accomplice in 1949, and Lieber fled first to Mexico and then Poland not long after Alger Hiss's conviction in 1950.- Early years :Lieber was born in Warsaw, Poland,...

 became his literary agent, 1933–1945 and 1949-1950. Hughes's first collection of short stories was published in 1934 with The Ways of White Folks
The Ways of White Folks
The Ways of White Folks is a collection of short stories written by Langston Hughes, published in 1934. Hughes wrote the book during a year he spent living in Carmel, California. The collection, "marked by pessimism about race relations, as well as a sardonic realism," is among his most well...

. These stories are a series of vignettes revealing the humorous and tragic interactions between whites and blacks. Overall, they are marked by a general pessimism about race relations, as well as a sardonic realism. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...

 in 1935.

The same year that Hughes established his theater troupe in Los Angeles, he realized an ambition related to films by co-writing the screenplay for Way Down South
Way Down South (film)
Way Down South is a 1939 film by Clarence Muse, who also acts in the film, and Langston Hughes. It was directed by Bernard Vorhaus and produced by Sol Lesser. The story deals with slavery on a plantation in pre-Civil War Louisiana....

. Hughes believed his failure to gain more work in the lucrative movie trade was due to racial discrimination within the industry.
In 1943, Hughes began publishing stories about a character he called Jesse B. Semple, often referred to and spelled "Simple", the everyday black man in Harlem who offered musings on topical issues of the day. Hughes seldom responded to requests to teach at colleges. In 1947, Hughes taught at Atlanta University. Hughes, in 1949, spent three months at University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools is a private, co-educational day school in Chicago, Illinois. It is affiliated with the University of Chicago...

 as a visiting lecturer. He wrote novels, short stories, plays, poetry, operas, essays, works for children, and, with the encouragement of his best friend and writer, Arna Bontemps
Arna Bontemps
Arnaud "Arna" Wendell Bontemps was an American poet and a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance.- Life and career :...

, and patron and friend, Carl Van Vechten
Carl van Vechten
Carl Van Vechten was an American writer and photographer who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein.-Biography:...

, two autobiographies, The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wander, as well as translating several works of literature into English.

During the mid−1950s and −1960s, Hughes' popularity among the younger generation of black writers varied as his reputation increased worldwide. With the gradual advancement toward racial integration
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

, many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date. They considered him a racial chauvinist. He found such writers, for instance, James Baldwin
James Baldwin (writer)
James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.Baldwin's essays, for instance "Notes of a Native Son" , explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th century America,...

, lacking in such pride, overintellectual in their work, and occasionally vulgar.

Hughes wanted young black writers to be objective about their race, but not to scorn it or flee it. He understood the main points of the Black Power
Black Power
Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States...

 movement of the 1960s, but believed that some of the younger black writers who supported it were too angry in their work. Hughes's work Panther and the Lash, posthumously published in 1967, was intended to show solidarity with these writers, but with more skill and devoid of the most virulent anger and terse racial chauvinism some showed toward whites. Hughes continued to have admirers among the larger younger generation of black writers, whom he often helped by offering advice and introducing them to other influential persons in the literature and publishing communities. This latter group, including Alice Walker
Alice Walker
Alice Malsenior Walker is an American author, poet, and activist. She has written both fiction and essays about race and gender...

, whom Hughes discovered, looked upon Hughes as a hero and an example to be emulated in degrees and tones within their own work. One of these young black writers observed of Hughes, "Langston set a tone, a standard of brotherhood and friendship and cooperation, for all of us to follow. You never got from him, 'I am the Negro writer,' but only 'I am a Negro writer.' He never stopped thinking about the rest of us."

Political views

Hughes, like many black writers and artists of his time, was drawn to the promise of Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 as an alternative to a segregated
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 America. Many of his lesser-known political writings have been collected in two volumes published by the University of Missouri Press and reflect his attraction to Communism. An example is the poem "A New Song".

In 1932, Hughes became part of a group of black people who went to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 to make a film depicting the plight of African Americans in the United States. The film was never made, but Hughes was given the opportunity to travel extensively through the Soviet Union and to the Soviet-controlled regions in Central Asia, the latter parts usually closed to Westerners. While there, he met African-American Robert Robinson
Robert Robinson (engineer)
Robert Robinson was a Jamaican-born mechanical engineer and toolmaker. In 1930, he was offered a one year contract by the Ford Motor Company to work in the Soviet Union and was then refused an exit visa until 1974.-Life:...

, living in Moscow and unable to leave. In Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, Hughes met and befriended the Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

 Arthur Koestler
Arthur Koestler
Arthur Koestler CBE was a Hungarian author and journalist. Koestler was born in Budapest and, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria...

. Hughes also managed to travel to China and Japan before returning to the States.

Hughes's poetry was frequently published in the CPUSA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 newspaper and he was involved in initiatives supported by Communist organizations, such as the drive to free the Scottsboro Boys
Scottsboro Boys
The Scottsboro Boys were nine black teenage boys accused of rape in Alabama in 1931. The landmark set of legal cases from this incident dealt with racism and the right to a fair trial...

. Partly as a show of support for the Republican
Second Spanish Republic
The Second Spanish Republic was the government of Spain between April 14 1931, and its destruction by a military rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco....

 faction during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, in 1937 Hughes traveled to Spain as a correspondent for the Baltimore Afro-American and other various African-American newspapers. Hughes was also involved in other Communist-led organizations like the John Reed Clubs and the League of Struggle for Negro Rights
League of Struggle for Negro Rights
The League of Struggle for Negro Rights was organized by the Communist Party in 1930 as the successor to the American Negro Labor Congress. The League was particularly active in organizing support for the "Scottsboro Boys", nine black men sentenced to death in 1931 for crimes they had not committed...

. He was more of a sympathizer than an active participant. He signed a statement in 1938 supporting Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's purges
Moscow Trials
The Moscow Trials were a series of show trials conducted in the Soviet Union and orchestrated by Joseph Stalin during the Great Purge of the 1930s. The victims included most of the surviving Old Bolsheviks, as well as the leadership of the Soviet secret police...

 and joined the American Peace Mobilization
American Peace Mobilization
The American Peace Mobilization was a peace group, officially cited in 1947 by United States Attorney General Tom C. Clark on the Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations for 1948, as directed by President Harry S...

 in 1940 working to keep the U.S. from participating in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Hughes initially did not favor black American involvement in the war because of the persistence of discriminatory U.S. Jim Crow laws
Jim Crow laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

 existing while blacks were encouraged to fight against Fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 and the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

. He came to support the war effort and black American involvement in it after deciding that blacks would also be contributing to their struggle for civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 at home.

Hughes was accused of being a Communist by many on the political right, but he always denied it. When asked why he never joined the Communist Party, he wrote "it was based on strict discipline and the acceptance of directives that I, as a writer, did not wish to accept." In 1953, he was called before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations led by Senator Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

. Following his appearance, he distanced himself from Communism and was subsequently rebuked by some who had previously supported him on the Radical Left. Over time, Hughes would distance himself from his most radical poems. In 1959 his collection of Selected Poems was published. He excluded his most controversial work from this group of poems.

Stage and film depictions

Hughes's life has been depicted in many stage and film productions. Hannibal of the Alps by Michael Dinwiddie and Paper Armor by Eisa Davis are plays by African-American playwrights which deal with Hughes's sexuality. In the 1989 film, Looking for Langston, British filmmaker Isaac Julien
Isaac Julien
Isaac Julien is an installation artist and filmmaker.-Biography:Julien graduated from St Martin's School of Art in 1985, where he studied painting and fine art film...

 claimed Hughes as a black gay icon — Julien thought that Hughes' sexuality had historically been ignored or downplayed. In the film Get on the Bus
Get on the Bus
Get on the Bus is a 1996 film about a group of African-American men who are taking a cross-country bus trip in order to participate in the Million Man March. The film was directed by Spike Lee and premiered on the one-year anniversary of the march....

, directed by Spike Lee
Spike Lee
Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee is an American film director, producer, writer, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983....

, a black gay character, played by Isaiah Washington
Isaiah Washington
Isaiah Washington IV is an American actor. A veteran of several Spike Lee films, Washington is best known for his role as Dr. Preston Burke on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy from 2005 to 2007.-Personal life:...

, invokes the name of Hughes and punches a homophobic character while commenting, "This is for James Baldwin and Langston Hughes." Film portrayals of Hughes include Gary LeRoi Gray
Gary LeRoi Gray
Gary LeRoi Gray is an African-American actor and voice actor involved with movies, television, and animation. He is most recognized for his childhood role as Nelson Tibideaux, the son of Sondra Huxtable Tibideaux and Elvin Tibideaux on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show...

's role as a teenage Hughes in the 2003 short subject film Salvation (based on a portion of his autobiography The Big Sea) and Daniel Sunjata
Daniel Sunjata
Daniel Sunjata is an American actor who performs in film, television and in the theater.-Career:...

 as Hughes in the 2004 film Brother to Brother. Hughes' Dream Harlem, a documentary by Jamal Joseph, examines Hughes' works and environment.

Literary archives

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was a 1963 gift of the Beinecke family. The building was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft of the firm of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, and is the largest building in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books...

 at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 holds the Langston Hughes papers (1862–1980) and the Langston Hughes collection (1924–1969) containing letters, manuscripts, personal items, photographs, clippings, artworks, and objects that document the life of Hughes. The Langston Hughes Memorial Library on the campus of Lincoln University
Lincoln University (Pennsylvania)
Lincoln University is the United States' first degree-granting historically black university. It is located near the town of Oxford in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. The university also hosts a Center for Graduate Studies in the City of Philadelphia. Lincoln University provides...

, as well as at the James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is remembered best for his leadership within the NAACP, as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and...

 Collection within the Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 also hold archives of Hughes' work.

Honors and awards

  • 1943, Lincoln University awarded Hughes an honorary Litt.D.
    Doctor of Letters
    Doctor of Letters is a university academic degree, often a higher doctorate which is frequently awarded as an honorary degree in recognition of outstanding scholarship or other merits.-Commonwealth:...

  • 1960, the NAACP
    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, usually abbreviated as NAACP, is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to...

     awarded Hughes the Spingarn Medal
    Spingarn Medal
    The Spingarn Medal is awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for outstanding achievement by an African American....

     for distinguished achievements by an African American.
  • 1961 National Institute of Arts and Letters
    The American Academy of Arts and Letters
    The American Academy of Arts and Letters is a 250-member honor society; its goal is to "foster, assist, and sustain excellence" in American literature, music, and art. Located in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan in New York, it shares Audubon Terrace, its Beaux Arts campus on...

    .
  • 1963 Howard University
    Howard University
    Howard University is a federally chartered, non-profit, private, coeducational, nonsectarian, historically black university located in Washington, D.C., United States...

     awarded Hughes an honorary doctorate
    Doctorate
    A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

    .
  • 1973, the first Langston Hughes Medal
    Langston Hughes Medal
    The Langston Hughes Medal is awarded annually to recognize an influential and engaging African American writer. Established by the late Raymond Patterson, Professor Emeritus of English at the City College of New York, the medal honors Langston Hughes' life-long commitment to social change through...

     was awarded by the City College of New York
    City College of New York
    The City College of the City University of New York is a senior college of the City University of New York , in New York City. It is also the oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning...

    .
  • 1979, Langston Hughes Middle School was created in Reston
    Reston, Virginia
    Reston is a census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The population was 58,404, at the 2010 Census and 56,407 at the 2000 census...

    , Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

    .
  • 1981, New York City Landmark status was given to the Harlem home of Langston Hughes at 20 East 127th Street (40°48′26.32"N 73°56′25.54"W) by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
    New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
    The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is the New York City agency charged with administering the city's Landmarks Preservation Law. The Commission was created in April 1965 by Mayor Robert F. Wagner following the destruction of Pennsylvania Station the previous year to make way for...

     and 127th St. was renamed Langston Hughes Place. The Langston Hughes House
    Langston Hughes House
    Langston Hughes House is a historic home located in Harlem, New York, New York. It is an Italianate style dwelling built in 1869. It is a three story with basement, rowhouse faced in brownstone and measuring 20 feet wide and 45 feet deep...

     was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
    National Register of Historic Places
    The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

     in 1982.
  • 2002 The United States Postal Service added the image of Langston Hughes to its Black Heritage series of postage stamps.
  • 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante
    Molefi Kete Asante
    Molefi Kete Asante is an African-American scholar, historian, and philosopher. He is a leading figure in the fields of African American studies, African Studies and Communication Studies...

     listed Langston Hughes on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans
    100 Greatest African Americans
    100 Greatest African Americans is a biographical dictionary of the one hundred historically greatest African Americans , as assessed by Molefi Kete Asante in 2002.-Criteria:...

    .

Poetry collections

  • The Weary Blues
    The Weary Blues
    "The Weary Blues" is a poem written by American poet Langston Hughes.Written in 1925, "The Weary Blues" was first published in the Urban League magazine, Opportunity. It was awarded best poem of the year by the magazine...

    , Knopf, 1926
  • Fine Clothes to the Jew
    Fine Clothes to the Jew
    Fine Clothes to the Jew is a 1927 poetry collection by Langston Hughes published by Alfred A. Knopf. Because it departed from sentimental depictions of African-American culture, the collection was widely criticized, especially in the Black press, when it was published.-Publication and response:The...

    , Knopf, 1927
  • The Negro Mother and Other Dramatic Recitations, 1931
  • Dear Lovely Death, 1931
  • The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, Knopf, 1932
  • Scottsboro Limited: Four Poems and a Play, Golden Stair Press, N.Y., 1932
  • Let America Be America Again
    Let America be America again
    "Let America Be America Again" is a poem written in 1935 by Langston Hughes. It was originally published in the July 1936 issue of Esquire Magazine. It was later republished in the 1937 issue of Kansas Magazine and was revised and included in a small collection of Langston Hughes poems titled A New...

    , 1938
  • Shakespeare in Harlem, Knopf, 1942
  • Freedom's Plow, 1943
  • Fields of Wonder, Knopf, 1947
  • One-Way Ticket, 1949
  • Montage of a Dream Deferred
    Montage of a Dream Deferred
    Montage of a Dream Deferred is a book-length poem suite published by Langston Hughes in 1951. Its jazz poetry style focuses on descriptions of Harlem and its mostly African-American inhabitants. The original edition was 75 pages long and comprised 91 individually titled poems, which were intended...

    , Holt, 1951
  • Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, 1958
  • Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, Hill & Wang, 1961
  • The Panther and the Lash: Poems of Our Times, 1967
  • The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Knopf, 1994

Novels and short story collections

  • Not Without Laughter
    Not Without Laughter
    Not Without Laughter is a novel written by Langston Hughes and published in 1930. It is Hughes' first novel, and first major work of prose.-Plot introduction:...

    . Knopf, 1930
  • The Ways of White Folks. Knopf, 1934
  • Simple Speaks His Mind. 1950
  • Laughing to Keep from Crying, Holt, 1952
  • Simple Takes a Wife. 1953
  • Sweet Flypaper of Life, photographs by Roy DeCarava
    Roy DeCarava
    Roy Rudolph DeCarava was an American photographer. DeCarava and poet Langston Hughes collaborated on a notable 1955 book on life in Harlem, The Sweet Flypaper of Life...

    . 1955
  • Tambourines to Glory 1958
  • The Best of Simple. 1961
  • Simple's Uncle Sam. 1965
  • Something in Common and Other Stories. Hill & Wang, 1963
  • Short Stories of Langston Hughes. Hill & Wang, 1996

Non-fiction books

  • The Big Sea. New York: Knopf, 1940
  • Famous American Negroes. 1954
  • I Wonder as I Wander. New York: Rinehart & Co., 1956
  • A Pictorial History of the Negro in America, with Milton Meltzer
    Milton Meltzer
    Milton Meltzer was an American historian and author best known for his history nonfiction books on Jewish, African-American and American history...

    . 1956
  • Famous Negro Heroes of America. 1958
  • Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP. 1962

Major plays by Hughes

  • Mule Bone
    Mule Bone
    Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life is a 1930 play by American authors Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. The process of writing the play led Hughes and Hurston, who had been close friends, to sever their relationship. Mule Bone was not staged until 1991.-Characters:Jim Weston: A guitarist and...

    , with Zora Neale Hurston. 1931
  • Mulatto. 1935 (renamed The Barrier, an opera
    Opera
    Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

    , in 1950)
  • Troubled Island, with William Grant Still
    William Grant Still
    William Grant Still was an African-American classical composer who wrote more than 150 compositions. He was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major...

    . 1936
  • Little Ham. 1936
  • Emperor of Haiti. 1936
  • Don't You Want to be Free? 1938
  • Street Scene
    Street Scene (opera)
    Street Scene is a Broadway musical or, more precisely, an "American opera" by Kurt Weill , Langston Hughes , and Elmer Rice...

    , contributed lyrics. 1947
  • Tambourines to glory. 1956
  • Simply Heavenly. 1957
  • Black Nativity
    Black Nativity
    Black Nativity is a retelling of the classic Nativity story with an entirely black cast. Traditional Christmas carols are sung in gospel style, with a few songs created specifically for the show. Originally written by Langston Hughes, the show was first performed on Broadway on December 11, 1961,...

    . 1961
  • Five Plays by Langston Hughes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1963.
  • Jericho-Jim Crow
    Jericho-Jim Crow
    Jerico-Jim Crow is a critically acclaimed 1964 musical, with a book written by Langston Hughes. It was a pioneering work in the urban contemporary gospel musical style, based on the themes of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States...

    . 1964

Works for children

  • Popo and Fifina, with Arna Bontemps. 1932
  • The First Book of the Negroes. 1952
  • The First Book of Jazz. 1954
  • Marian Anderson
    Marian Anderson
    Marian Anderson was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century...

    : Famous Concert Singer. with Steven C. Tracy 1954
  • The First Book of Rhythms. 1954
  • The First Book of the West Indies. 1956
  • First Book of Africa. 1964

Further reading


See also

  • African American literature
    African American literature
    African-American literature is the body of literature produced in the United States by writers of African descent. The genre traces its origins to the works of such late 18th century writers as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano, reaching early high points with slave narratives and the Harlem...

  • Harlem Renaissance
    Harlem Renaissance
    The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke...

  • Langston Hughes Society
    Langston Hughes Society
    The Langston Hughes Society is a United States-based literary society concerned with the work of African American poet Langston Hughes. The society was the first national organisation to be dedicated to the work of an African American writer...

  • Négritude
    Négritude
    Négritude is a literary and ideological movement, developed by francophone black intellectuals, writers, and politiciansin France in the 1930s by a group that included the future Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor, Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, and the Guianan Léon Damas.The Négritude...

  • Pan-Africanism
    Pan-Africanism
    Pan-Africanism is a movement that seeks to unify African people or people living in Africa, into a "one African community". Differing types of Pan-Africanism seek different levels of economic, racial, social, or political unity...


External links


Profiles


Archive and works

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