Langston Hughes, the renowned poet, novelist, playwright, librettist, essayist and translator, was born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902. His parents were Caroline (Carrie) Mercer Langston, a teacher, and James Nathaniel Hughes, a lawyer. As a young man, Hughes moved to New York City and enrolled at Columbia University instead of accepting his father's demands for a degree in mining engineering. In 1919, he briefly joined his father in Mexico City and returned to Cleveland to finish high school. After receiving his diploma in 1920, he returned to Mexico City.
When his mother and brother followed his stepfather who occasionally left the family in search of higher salaries, Langston stayed in Cleveland to finish high school. Hughes was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance and made the African-American experience the subject of his writings, ranging from poetry and plays to novels and newspaper columns. His works included The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel which appeared in 1994. He was also a social activist who worked hard to inculcate racial pride in the African-American community. On May 22nd 1967, at age 66, Hughes died at Stuyvesant Polyclinic in New York City due to complications from abdominal surgery related to prostate cancer. As a tribute to his poetry, his funeral contained little spoken praise but was filled with jazz and blues music. The legacy of Langston Hughes lives on through his collection of literary works.
He wrote about what it was like to be a black man in the United States for more than 35 years and his works continue to inspire people today. His death marked the end of an era but his words will live on forever.