The Life and Legacy of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was an American author and a driving force in the 1920s art movement, the Harlem Renaissance. Learn more about his life and legacy from an expert's perspective.

The Life and Legacy of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes, the renowned American author and a driving force in the 1920s art movement, the Harlem Renaissance, was a voice for African Americans for nearly half a century. Born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902, James Mercer Langston Hughes was raised by his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas until he was 12 years old. After that, he moved to Illinois to live with his mother and stepfather, and later the family moved to Ohio. In high school, Hughes was exposed to the works of Carl Sandburg (1878-1896), another poet from the Midwest.

This inspired him to begin writing poetry and developing his own unique style. He sent his work to magazines but all of them were rejected. In 1924, Hughes moved to Washington D. C.

with his mother in hopes of earning enough money to return to college. Unfortunately, working as a hotel waiter paid very little and the racial tensions in the capital made him unhappy. Despite this, he was able to write a lot of poems. The Weary Blues won first prize in 1925 in a literary contest sponsored by Opportunity magazine published by the National Urban League. That same summer, one of his essays and another poem won prizes in the Crisis literary contest.

This caught the attention of Carl Van Vechten, a novelist and critic who organized the publication of Hughes' first volume of poetry, The Weary Blues (192). In February 2002, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Hughes's birth, the University of Kansas organized a symposium that included the participation of artists, academics, teachers, poets and other events related to the celebration and understanding of Langston Hughes. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel, appeared in 1994. Proseletters from Langston (University of California Press), 201 Selected Letters by Langston Hughes (Alfred A.

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