Langston Hughes was a revolutionary African-American poet, novelist, playwright, and social activist who left an indelible mark on the literary world. Born in Joplin, Missouri in 1901, Hughes was the first African-American to earn a living as a poet and the first to be accepted by the then all-white literary establishment. He is best known for his contributions to the Harlem Renaissance movement, which sought to celebrate African-American culture and identity. Hughes was also an exceptional journalist and traveler, and he is often referred to as the people's poet for his portrayals of black culture and everyday life.
He was a black gay icon, and his work has been celebrated by filmmakers such as Isaac Julien in Looking for Langston (198). Hughes was raised by his grandmother Mary Langston in Lawrence, Kansas. Mary Langston instilled in her grandson a lasting sense of racial pride through African-American oral tradition and her own activist experiences. In 1931, Hughes and Prentiss Taylor created Golden Stair Press, which published portfolios and books with works of art by Prentiss Taylor and texts by Langston Hughes.
Hughes is also recognized as an innovator of jazz poetry, imitating the flow and rhythm of jazz music. His work has been collected in various archives, including the Beinecke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Yale University, which contains the Langston Hughes documents (1862-1980) and the Langston Hughes Collection (1924-196). The Langston Hughes Center (LHC) at the Department of African and African American Studies serves as an educational and academic research center based on his legacy and vision. Langston Hughes set a tone of brotherhood, friendship, and cooperation that we must all follow.
His revolutionary legacy continues to inspire generations of writers and activists today.