Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri.
His father wasJames Nathaniel and his mother was Carrie Mercer Langston Hughes. Hisgrandfather was Charles Langston, an Ohio abolitionist. As a young boy he livedin Buffalo, New York, Cleveland, Ohio, Lawrence, Kansas, Mexico City, Topeka,Kansas, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Kansas City, Kansas. In 1914 his parentsdivorced and he, his mother, and his stepfather moved to Lincoln, Illinois. Inhigh school back in Cleveland, he was elected class poet, and editor of thesenior class yearbook. He taught English to some families in Mexico in 1921 andalso published his first prose piece, “Mexican Games”(Davis).
In anexcerpt from an article about Langston Hughes in Encarta 97, it says that he wasdiscovered in 1925, while he was working as a busboy in a restaurant inWashington, D. C. , when he accidentally left three of his poems next to the plateof Vachel Lindsay, an American poet. She helped him ge! t publicity for hisworks and she got him seriously started in writing(Encarta). In an article aboutLangston Hughes in The Reference Library of Black America it talks about all theplaces in the world that Hughes has traveled.
He probably used much of theinformation of the cultures of other countries to write. Hughes traveled allover the world as a seaman. He went to the Soviet Union, Haiti, Japan, Spain,Genoa, France, and other parts of Europe. Hughes was an author, anthologist,librettist, songwriter, columnist, translator, founder of theaters, and apoetical innovator in jazz technology. Hughes liked to write in many genres suchas prose, comedy, drama, fiction, biographies, autobiographies, and TV and radioscripts. Langston Hughes was the father of the Harlem Renaissance and made manycontributions on the behalf of African- Americans which led to the end ofdiscrimination and segregation(Davis).
Hughes was an important figure in theHarlem Renaissance because he was one of the most talented and famous blackwriters in his time. The Harlem Renaissance was the black movement during the1920’s. Many African-Americans got famous during this time and more people inthe United States and the world got to see another side of African- Americanswhich had never been seen before. People saw that blacks could do things thesame or better than white people and many, but certainly not all, barriers likesegregation were decreased noticeably. He wrote numerous protest poems in whichhe used irony to get his points across to the reader. Hughes was influenced byJean Toomer, another black writer and poet.
It seemed as though Hughes used hispoetry as a way to combat against the ongoing struggle that African- Americansstill face today. Many believe that his best poems were inspired by the city ofHarlem. He was even called the “Poet-Laureate of Harlem” because ofhis unders! tanding for the city. Hughes best volume of Harlem works is Montageof a Dream Deferred. Hughes was the author who during the Harlem Renaissanceused much of the Black culture in his work. He began to use the Blues, Balladform, dance rhythms, folk speech, and Jazz in his poetry.
Hughes had success inmany different fields of writing. His best drama, “Mulatto,” a play,was performed on Broadway 373 times in 1935. In his best comedy, “LittleHam”(1935), again he uses themes from Harlem. Hughes’s best fiction is inhis “Simple” series. In his lifetime, Langston Hughes won severalawards. In 1925 he won his first prize for poetry in the Opportunity contest andthird prize for essay in the Crisis contest.
In 1926 he published his firstvolume of poems, The Weary Blues. In 1953 he won the Anisfeld-Wolfe Award. Hughes also won the Witter Bynner Prize for undergraduate poetry while attendingLincoln University. Even West Indian poets, such as Leopold Senghor, saw Hughesas the father of the Negritude Movement(Davis). One of Hughes’s works mentionedin the book, The Langston Hughes Reader, is entitled, My Most Humiliating JimCrow Experience. This short story of his is a true story of his childhood.
Itshows all the themes he is fighting for and the things he is fighting against. What happens is that Hughes and a white friend of his go into a restaurant. Hisfriend gets his food, but when he gets his, the white clerk charges him sixtimes what the food is worth. He argued with the clerk and finally left with hisfriend. Years later a group of white and black workers walked in and demanded tobe served.
They did get their meals and ended the segregation in that particularrestaurant. This shows how prejudice was in the early 1900’s. Even during thestart of the Harlem Renaissance people still hated African-Americans. That storyshows why Hughes wrote so many protest poems and became so involved in the blackmovement(Davis).
Langston Hughes was the father of the Harlem Renaissance andmade many contributions on the behalf of African-Americans which led to the endof discrimination and segregation. Hughes was an important figure in the HarlemRenaissance because he was one of the most talented and famous black writers inhis time. Even West Indian poets saw Hughes as the father of the NegritudeMovement. It seemed as though Hughes used his writing as his weapon to combatagainst the ongoing struggle that African-Americans still face today. If it werenot for Langston Hughes, African-Americans would not have their currentpolitical and social positions today, even though they are not equal to thosethat white Americans have.Biographies