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Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

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.

 

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David Watkins

David Watkins

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While working as a busboy in Washington, D.C., Hughes put three of his poems beside the plate of Vachel Lindsay. The next day, newspapers around the country reported that Lindsay had discovered a Negro busboy poet.

Article: American Writers: Hughes ...
Source: American Writers: Hughes ...

Hughes published his first two books while attending Lincoln University. He received his degree in 1929 from that institution.

Article: American Writers: Hughes ...
Source: American Writers: Hughes ...

Hughes was not immediately accepted as writer. Much of his early work was roundly criticized by many black intellectuals for portraying what they thought to be an unattractive view of black life.

Article: Langston Hughes
Source: Langston Hughes : The Poe...

Hughes's father played an instrumental role in his poetry. His parents separated shortly after his birth and his father moved to Mexico. The elder Hughes came to feel a deep dislike and revulsion for other American blacks.

Article: Langston Hughes
Source: Langston Hughes : The Poe...

His father sent him to study mining engineering at Columbia University in New York. He lived Harlem and he liked it so much he wrote a poem called "My People."

Article: Langston Hughes
Source: Kyrene School District - ...

His family issues extended further than just his father. His mother left him the care of his grandmother at age eight because she couldn't afford rent.

Article: Langston Hughes
Source: Kyrene School District - ...

Despite the poverty conditions Hughes endured, he never grew attached to money when he did have it. In fact, Hughes struggled to ask for money when he needed it, even if it were owed to him.

Article:   Remember Me to Harlem: Th…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

Although Hughes loved Harlem when he began living there in 1924, he had become cynical about it by 1940. He wrote "The ordinary negros hadn't heard of the Negro Renaissance. And if they had, it hadn't raised their wages any."

Article:   Remember Me to Harlem: Th…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

Langston Hughes was part of the Harlem Renaissance. During his lifetime he was known as "the poet laureate of Harlem." Poet Laureate was a title held by prominent poets in England.

Article: Library System - Howard U...
Source: Howard University

"Hughes portrayed black life in the United States with idiomatic realism. 'Not without Laughter', a novel published in 1930, won him the Harmon god medal for literature."

Article: Library System - Howard U...
Source: Howard University
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