December 5, 2020

Langston Hughes – “Leader of the Harlem Renaissance”

Once upon at time in Black Entrepreneur History, a man named James Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 in a place called Joplin, Missouri.

At that time, his parents, Caroline H. Clarke and James Nathaniel Hughes, were together, however, they later split. Langston’s father moved to Mexico and his mother ended up remarried later on in life, living up North.

At his parents’ split, Langston grew up with his grandmother who was a very proud woman and instilled in him the how wonderful he was being a black man and how much pride he should have in black culture. He took that and ran with it.

As a teenager, he ended up moving with his mother and his stepfather, and that was when he fell in love with writing poetry. After he graduated from high school, he went to live in Mexico with his father, however, he didn’t quite agree with his father’s philosophies in life and career, so he moved back to America within a year.

From there, a young Langston ended up in NYC, enrolling himself in Columbia University. From there, he graduated from Lincoln University because Columbia University wasn’t fit for him due to what he perceived very well to be racism and discrimination.

From there, Hughes’ writing career took off as he published his first book in 1924 when he moved to Washington D.C. The title of the book was The Weary Blues, a book of poetry. It wasn’t until 1930 that Hughes published his first novel titled Not Without Laughter.

Reading anything that Langston Hughes wrote, one will get the message that he aimed to write about real experiences of black people with a jazz feel to it, a style of poetry known as Jazz poetry. In fact, Langston became one of the major poets influencing the Harlem Renaissance.

Langston was big on traveling, being a seaman, and going to Africa and Europe, Caribbean and more, effectively creating a climate for black authors across the globe, to have black pride against European colonialism.

Langston Hughes titles include but aren’t limited to

  • The Weary Blues (1st book of poetry)
  • Not Without Laughter (1st novel; won the Harmon Gold Medal for Literature)
  • The Negro Speaks of Rivers
  • I, Too, Am America
  • The Big Sea
  • The Ways of White Folks
  • Thank You M’am
  • My People
  • Fine Clothes to the Jew
  • Good Morning, Revolution
  • Wonder as I Wander
  • Dream Boogie
  • Laughing to Keep From Crying

Langston Hughes died of prostate cancer on May 22,1967 in NYC, and his home has become a landmark in Harlem.

Here are some little known facts about Langston Hughes:

  • His mother was 18 years old at the time of his birth
  • at the time of his birth, the physician failed to give her a certificate of James Langston Hughes birth.
  • He was a short man, standing 5 feet 4 inches tall.
  • He is recorded to have had brown eyes and Black hair with an oval face.
  • The house he once lived at as a teen is located at 5709 Longfellow Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio.