James Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967)

James Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967)

James Mercer Langston Hughes was a prominent American author, poet, and social activist who played a crucial role in the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural and artistic movement in the 1920s. Born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes grew up in a racially diverse environment, which greatly influenced his perspective on race and identity. Raised by his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas, after his parents' separation, Hughes developed a deep connection to African American culture and heritage.

A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the Earth
And every man is free.

Langston Hughes

Hughes began his literary career while attending Columbia University in the 1920s. His poetry and essays addressed the complexities of race, inequality, and social injustice, capturing the essence of the African American experience during a tumultuous period. His work often explored the struggles and dreams of ordinary black people, celebrating their resilience and contributions to American society.

Recommended Reading: The Collected Poems of Langston HughesThe Ways of White Folks StoriesLangston Hughes Poetry For Young People Series,

One of Hughes's most famous works is the poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," written when he was just 17 years old. This early masterpiece showcased his talent for combining lyrical expression with profound themes. Hughes's writing style was characterized by its accessibility, authenticity, and a deep connection to the rhythms of jazz and blues, which were integral to the cultural landscape of the Harlem Renaissance.

Aside from his poetry, Hughes wrote novels, short stories, and plays that reflected his commitment to social justice. His notable works include the novel "Not Without Laughter" and the play "Mulatto." Hughes's engagement with the political and social issues of his time earned him both praise and criticism, but his impact on American literature and culture remains undeniable. James Mercer Langston Hughes passed away on May 22, 1967, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire readers and scholars alike.

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Langston Hughes | Poet, Activist, Novelist | Pride T-Shirt

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