Langston Hughes

James Langston Hughes
Quick Facts:
Birth Date: February 1, 1902
Death Date: May 22, 1967
Parents: James Nathaniel Hughes and Carrie Mercer Langston
Education Background: He went to a white school in Topeka, KS Honors and Awards: A leading runner and high jumper, In may 1925 his first book was “The Weary Blues: it got first place in poetry.

He was a poet, playwright, and novelist. He was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, MO. He was the son of James Nathaniel Hughes. He excelled at predominathy white schools in Topeka and Lowerence, where he faced prejudice from certain officials. Between 1910 and 1915 he lived in Lincoln, Illonios, with his mother who have remarried after divorcing his father. At Central School he wrote his first poem and was elected class poet in the eight grade.

Handsome and personable, a leading runner and high-jumper, and the author of verse and short stories published in the school magazine, he was popular and respected. In 1919 - 1920, his senior year, he was elected class poet and editor of the year book, that's when he decided to be a writer. In September 1921, after spending a year in Mexico with his father who thought writing was a waste of time. Hughes entered Columbia University. By this point, he had absorbed his early influences in poerty-notably the black poet Paul Haurence Dunbar, Walt Whitman, and above all Carl Sandburg, whom Hughes referred to as “My Guiding Star.”

In 1921-1922 he published free-verse poems such as “ The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and”Mother to Son” in W.E.B.Du Bois Crisis, the organ of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Finding the university in has pitiable (he was one of about a dozen black students there, Hughes completed most of his freshman courses but then withdrew. In May 1925, his first book “The Weary Blues,” won first prize in poetry in a major literary contest ran by Opportunity, the magazine of the Urban League.

He then met Carl Van Vechter, white writer who encouraged Alfred A. Knopf to publish Hughes first book of poems, The Weary Blues. A second volume, Fine Clothes to the Jew, though Scathingly reviewed in the black press for its free us of the blues and dialect, confirmed his reputation as the most in novative of young black poets. Along with writers such as Wallace Thurman, Counter Culled, and Zorba Peale Hurst on and artists such as Aaron Douglas, Hughes was a major figure in the movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.

His land mark essay “The Nero Artist and the Racial Mountain,” in which he off rimed the determination fox young black writers to treat the subject of race without share of fear, appeared in the Nation and became virtually the manifesto of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1928 Hughes graduated from school. From 1927 to 1930 he enjoyed the patronage of Mrs. Rufus Osgood Mason, a deathly aged widow with faith in parapsychology. Under her audience, Hughes wrote his first novel, not without laughter It is about a black boy in the Midwest, and is visiting Cuba, where he meant poet Nicholas Guillotine.

Here is a useful site for more information: Black History

Date created March 27,2000

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