Posted: October 17th, 2013
His works have endured for long, and he has served as an inspiration to many. I believe that you should include Langston Hughes the next time you teach this class. He was one of the most noticeable personalities of the Harlem renaissance. Hughes was born in 1902, and he died of health complications in 1967 after a life of struggle and noted accomplishments. Hughes childhood was eventful. He was born in Missouri, but his parents divorced when he was still a child. His grandmother raised him in Kansas, after his father moved out of the country, and his mother moved to various places around the country looking for work. It was not until he was twelve years old that he went to live with his mother in Illinois. The family would later move to Ohio. Hughes began writing at an early age. He showed his talent while he was still in school, where he wrote poems and the school newspaper. He was diversified in his work. Rather than specialize in a specific genre, he chose to diversify his interests in poetry, children’s books, autobiographies, novels, plays, and essays.
Hughes was proud to identify himself as a black American. He lived at a time when there was an increase in the issue of black pride. African Americans were not afraid to voice their concerns or fight for their rights. Hughes wrote a lot about this. He had enrolled at Columbia University, but he had to drop out. He would later attend Lincoln University, where he was able to complete his education. He traveled to Africa and Europe, and he returned with more confidence and pride concerning his black heritage (Tracy 9). He would often write about his life, and the life of others around him. Some of his poems include “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, “The Negro Mother” and “Montage of a Dream Deferred”. Other works included the essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”, where he emphasized the importance of black racial pride, and the play “Mulatto”. He also wrote autobiographies such as “I Wonder as I Wander”. His poems and other works reflected his quest for justice and equality. He also spoke against racial segregation. Despite the seriousness of the issues he wrote of, he included humor in his work. Hughes was a jazz poet. His first volume of jazz poems was the “Weary Blues”, and this earned him recognition in the literary world (Haugen 72).
Hughes was a diversified writer, but he was consistent in his writing. The future class seeks to benefit from studying and discussing his works. Hughes was especially sensitive to the suffering of the lower class black American. He did not color his work with flowery language, but he wrote the reality. The future class will benefit by having a realistic view concerning life for the African American before the realization of racial equality in the country. In addition, Hughes used simple language and grammar, and this makes his work easy to read and understand. Hughes was inspired by other writers, both black and white. However, he was not afraid of differing with them concerning the issues he felt were not justified or fair. For instance, one of his inspirations was W. E. B. Dubois, who supported racial segregation. Hughes was not afraid to differ with him concerning the issue, and his work “Jim Crow’s Last Stand” reflected this (Tracy 10).
Hughes’ work reflects why people consider him an outstanding author. He managed to cross obstacles and barriers that were naturally present because of his race. He was able to venture and succeed into new territories as a jazz poet. He had many lists of significant works. In addition to the mentioned works, he also wrote the “Simple” series, with titles such as “Simple Speaks his Mind”. Hughes not only fits in the Harlem renaissance movement, but he also helps define it. The literary movement began some time after the First World War and the beginning of the great depression. At this time, African American intellectuals, musicians, and literary artists flourished in the north, especially in the Harlem area of New York. Hughes has had mixed reactions from critics. Some have opposed him strongly, while others have spoken of him favorably, depending on the content of his work. Like the great literary artist he is, Hughes has not let this limit his creative abilities and ingenuity, and this has made his work enduring over the years.
Haugen, Brenda. Langston Hughes: The Voice of Harlem. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2006. Print
Tracy, C. Steven. A Historical Guide to Langston Hughes. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Print
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