Langston Hughes was an American author, poet, and social activist who was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He was born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902 and is remembered for his unique style of writing that expressed the mind and spirit of African Americans for nearly half a century. In high school, Hughes was inspired by the works of poet Carl Sandburg and began writing poetry himself. He sent his work to magazines but all of them were rejected.
In 1924, Hughes moved to Washington D. C. to live with his mother. He worked as a hotel waiter but the pay was low and he was unhappy with the racial tensions in the city.
Despite this, he wrote a lot of poems and one of them, The Weary Blues, won first prize in 1925 in a literary contest sponsored by Opportunity magazine. That same summer, two more of his works won prizes in the Crisis literary contest. Carl Van Vechten, a novelist and critic, took notice of Hughes' work and organized the publication of his first volume of poetry, The Weary Blues (19). After studying engineering at Columbia University for one year (1921-2), Hughes left due to racial prejudice and his desire to return to Harlem and write poetry.
Langston Hughes' works have been celebrated for their unique style that expressed the mind and spirit of African Americans for nearly half a century. His hometown of Joplin, Missouri played an important role in his life and career as it was where he was born and where he first developed his love for writing.