Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He is best known for his contributions to the Harlem Renaissance movement, where he wrote poetry that imitated the flow and rhythm of jazz music. He was also a competent journalist and a revolutionary thinker. Despite never marrying, he had many relationships with women throughout his life.
In the 1930s, it was difficult to openly talk about being gay, but people who have studied his life and poetry are sure that he was homosexual. Hughes' family history was brown rather than black. His grandmother Mary Langston instilled in him a lasting sense of racial pride. His mother moved to Washington D.
C., where Hughes followed her in 1924. He worked as a hotel waiter to earn money to go back to college, but life in the capital was difficult due to racial tensions. However, he was able to write many poems during this time. The Weary Blues won first prize in 1925 in a literary contest sponsored by Opportunity magazine. Carl Van Vechten, a novelist and critic, noticed Hughes' work and organized the publication of his first volume of poetry, The Weary Blues (19). In 1931, Prentiss Taylor and Langston Hughes created Golden Stair Press which published portfolios and books with works of art by Prentiss Taylor and texts by Langston Hughes.
The Beinecke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Yale University contains the Langston Hughes documents (1862-1980) and the Langston Hughes Collection (1924-196).Langston Hughes is often referred to as the people's poet for his portrayals of black culture and everyday life. In Looking for Langston (198), British filmmaker Isaac Julien stated that he was a black gay icon. Julien thought that Hughes' sexuality had been historically ignored or minimized. Langston Hughes is remembered as an innovator of jazz poetry and a revolutionary thinker who sparked a revolution. He is also remembered for his unique style of writing which he developed in high school after learning about the works of Carl Sandburg (1878-1896).
His legacy lives on through his works which are still studied today.