langston_hughes.jpgJames Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin Missouri. Hughes's parents divorced when he was a child and he lived with his grandmother giving Hughes his beginning in writing as a poet. She introduced him to stories of great African Americans such as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.He lived with his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas until he was thirteen years old, when she passed away. One of his greatest influences came from his grandmothers 2nd husband who was an abolitionist. Hughes had a very jumpy life. He attended Columbia University for a year, but however dropped out after deciding that it was not what he actually wanted for his life and wanted to travel the world. Later, he received a scholarship to Lincoln University and graduated after three years with a bachelor degree in 1929. Hughes also moved with his father in Mexico after graduating high school. They did not get along very well, partially for being possibly homosexual and since his father did not want him to be writer but something that was more reasonable as a career.

Hughes was one of the key African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. His poetry was also greatly impacted by the Rennaisance with his mixture of jazz and blues (African American music) in his poetry. Since the Rennaisance was a time when African Americans were exposing their gifts and talents with music, writing poetry and more. Hughes inspiration in his writings came from sitting in jazz clubs, which made his thoughts flow.

How did Langston Hughes Impact the African American Community Of His Time and Become an inspiration for all generations?

Langston.jpgDuring the Harlem Renaissance Langston Hughes was a major leader who helped encourage African Americans. Hughes used poetry to encourage his people during their hard times. Langston was a powerful man who used his poetry skills to express his feelings towards the African American race, which was being highly discriminated against. It did not matter if they were talented, smart, or creative, they were still not accepted because of their race. Langston wrote “were a talented black poet would prefer to be considered a poet, not a black poet” meaning that a black poet did not want to be labeled as being a black poet, they would have liked to be labeled as a poet, just as the white men were.

Hughes was a man who went out of the box, and traveled the world in order to increase his knowledge of things happening not only in America but other countries also. Hughes joined the crew of a sail ship (ass an odd job) traveling to West Africa. He made a decision that it was time for himself to search the world. Hughes learned about the culture of other countries besides America began to compare and contrast them. He also added some of this information into his poetry. While on that journey, he traveled to places such as Italy, Holland, Spain and Paris. This showed that Hughes had a passion for poetry and tried to bring as much knowledge as he could into his poetry, making the aspect of his poetry very unique from others of his time.He was dedicated to his art of poetry just as well as all people should be with anything they to accomplish as Hughes did.

Hughes made a big impact on poetry which had its long lasting effects. Hughes was one of the people who made jazz style poetry, which were two subjects emerging during this time of the Harlem Renaissance with African Americans. These types of poems had rythms and feelings of jazz and blues and were even meant to be recited with a band. Here is an example of this:
This is a poem by Langston Hughes called "the Weary Blues", written by himself when he was 24 years old. It is recited by author and Harvard Professor, Dr. Allen Dwight Callahan. This video shows clips of Langston Hughes performing poetry at jazz clubs in New York. This video is a great example of how poetry fused with jazz worked and sounded and also gives you an idea of how Langston Hughes comes to life and is filled with excitement and enthusiasm while performing although he went through such hard time in his life.
The Weary Blues
Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
        I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
       He did a lazy sway. . . .
       He did a lazy sway. . . .
To the tune o' those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
        O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
        Sweet Blues!
Coming from a black man's soul.
        O Blues!
In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone
I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan--
        "Ain't got nobody in all this world,
        Ain't got nobody but ma self.
        I's gwine to quit ma frownin'
        And put ma troubles on the shelf."
Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few chords then he sang some more--
        "I got the Weary Blues
        And I can't be satisfied--
        I ain't happy no mo'
        And I wish that I had died."
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.

Hughes wrote many inspiring poems that would encourage an African American to stay strong even when times were rough. Hughes even went around to homeless people around Harlem and interviewed them, for inspiration in his poetry. These poems,as a result came out to be, Hughes basically becoming a voice for the African American community so others can see how rough times were and so the people going through the hardships can be uplifted especially during the Great Depression. Some of Hughes's encouraging poems that we found aspiring were Freedom’s Plow, The Negro Mother, The Negro Speaks of Rivers, Life is Fine, Dream Variations, and Merry-Go-Round. These poems all have distinct messages which were very encouraging. An example being....

The Negro Mother,

written by Langston Hughes "Children, I come back today To tell you a story of the long dark way That I had to climb, that I had to know In order that the race might live and grow. Look at my face -- dark as the night -- Yet shining like the sun with love's true light. I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea Carrying in my body the seed of the free. I am the woman who worked in the field Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield. I am the one who labored as a slave, Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave -- Children sold away from me, I'm husband sold, too. No safety , no love, no respect was I due. Three hundred years in the deepest South: But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth . God put a dream like steel in my soul. Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal. Now, through my children, young and free, I realized the blessing deed to me. I couldn't read then. I couldn't write. I had nothing, back there in the night. Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears, But I kept trudging on through the lonely years. Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun, But I had to keep on till my work was done: I had to keep on! No stopping for me -- I was the seed of the coming Free. I nourished the dream that nothing could smother Deep in my breast -- the Negro mother. I had only hope then , but now through you, Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true: All you dark children in the world out there, Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair. Remember my years, heavy with sorrow -- And make of those years a torch for tomorrow. Make of my pass a road to the light Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night. Lift high my banner out of the dust. Stand like free men supporting my trust. Believe in the right, let none push you back. Remember the whip and the slaver's track. Remember how the strong in struggle and strife Still bar you the way, and deny you life -- But march ever forward, breaking down bars. Look ever upward at the sun and the stars. Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers Impel you forever up the great stairs -- For I will be with you till no white brother Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother." [1.]

The poem The Negro Mother is delivering the message that your African American ancestors
had to go through alot of hardships to help bring America, the so called free land, to where it is now. Even though the african american mothers were mistreated and given no respect, they still had to travel on, with the hope that their children will not have to go through what they went through and see what they saw. This poem is inspirational because it is informing the reader to dream on and believe that tomorrow will be a brighter day. As Langston Hughes once said "hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot die." [ 3.]
Langston Hughes

Merry-Go-Round, by Langston Hughes

"Where is the Jim Crow section
On this merry-go-round,
Mister, cause I want to ride?
Down South where I come from
White and colored
Can't sit side by side.
Down South on the train
There's a Jim Crow car.
On the bus we're put in the back--
But there ain't no back
To a merry-go-round!
Where's the horse
For a kid that's black?"[2]

This poem is comparing a merry-go-round to the segregation laws. Blacks and Whites were segregated during Langstons time. Langston used his creativity skills to come up with a poem in which it would not possible to separate blacks and white. On a merry-go-round all kids ride together in a united way, no matter what color their skin is. Langston is questioning, since he is a black kid, and there is one merry-go-round, there couldn’t be a specific section where colored people has to sit since a merry-go-round is in a circular shape.

Death and AccomplishmentsBOYS.jpg

Langston Hughes died on May 22, 1967 after complications occurred during surgery for prostate cancer. Hughes made a great impact during his life on the world of poetry. Hughes was said to be "one of the first African American writers who could support himself financially as a writer.") During Hughe's lifetime he wrote 16 books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of editorial and documentary fiction, twemty plays, childrens poetry, musicals and operas, three autobiographies and many magazine articles and radio and television sripts.



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