Langston Hughes: Contribution as American Author

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      One of many talented poets of the “Harlem Renaissance” of the 1920s - in the company of James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, and others - was Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, in a home that was soon to break apart. Years later he hated his father who threw the young Hughes into a temporary emotional breakdown. He grew up all over the places - Missowi, Kansas, Colorado, Mexico, Illinois and Ohio, always carrying with the political possibilities of that fact that his grand father was one of the black men who, side by side, with John Brown of Harpers Ferry. No one else was to dare to the single purpose of telling the world what it is to be a Negro in America. After his completion of high school education in Cleveland, he lived for more than a year Mexico where he continued writing he had begun as a class poet of his Lincoln Illinois School. He moved to New York where he worked as a delivery boy and as a truck garden farmland.

      In 1921, he enrolled to Columbia University and published his first collection of poems “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”. In 1922, he was bored with school courses and drifted on a continental tour and Paris he worked as a dish washer. He returned to the United States, bursting with words and rhythms he wanted people to hear. His succeeding works are - Fine Clothes to the Jew (1926), The Negro Mother and Dear Lovely Death (1931), The Dream Keeper (1932; Scottsboro Limited (1932), A New Song (1938), Shakespeare in Harlem (1942) Jim Crow’s Last Stand (1943), Fields of Wonder (1945), One Way Ticket (1949), Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951) and Ask Your Mama (1961).

      An influential cultural organizer, Hughes published numerous black anthologies and began to organize black groups in Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as New York City. He also wrote effective journalism, creating the character Jesse B. Sample (“simple”) to express social commentary. It is one of his most beloved poems, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (1921,1925), embraces his African - and universal - heritage in a grand epic catalog. The poem suggests that like the great rivers of the world, African culture will endure and deepen. He embraced African-American jazz rhythms and was one of the first black writers to attempt to make a profitable career out of his writing. Hughes incorporated the blues, spirituals, colloquial speech, and folkways in his poetry.

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