Langston Hughes, born in 1902, was an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural period for African Americans which spread throughout the African American communities of the Northeast but was centered in Harlem. He was a noted poet, novelist and playwright, best known for his published works such as “The Weary Blues” and “Not Without Laughter.” He was educated at several schools, ranging from elementary to college.
Hughes began his formal schooling at Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was a 1926 graduate. He was also conferred an honorary doctorate degree in literature by Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1943. He also attended Columbia University, which is situated in New York City. Hughes attended classes at Columbia during the years of 1920-1921. Some of the classes he originally enrolled in at Columbia include: French, Psychology, English and Latin. In the end, his lack of concentration and lack of serious study prevented him from taking any of these classes further.
In addition to a prestigious college, Hughes was well-versed in other educational experiences. He attended several elementary schools across the United States as well. Most of his elementary schooling took place during his early childhood in Missouri, his birth state. Specifically, he attended Lincoln Elementary school in Lawrence, Kansas and Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago.
From 1921 to 1922, Hughes attended the National University in Langley, Ohio as a full-time student. After he was finished with his studies at the university, he went to Mexico and also attended law school at the University of Mexico from 1923 to 1924. It is believed he did not finish the program.
It is important to remember that much of Hughes’ educational experiences are drawn from his experiences during the era of the Harlem Renaissance. This period was a time of great struggle for African Americans in this country, and Hughes was no exception. He was an incredibly talented individual who used education to further his literary ambitions. Although his college experience was relatively short-lived, his works have had a lasting effect on African American culture.
It is also important to note that Hughes did not limit himself to just classroom learning. He was a voracious reader and was able to acquire much of his knowledge from books, making him an unconventional student in addition to a deeply knowledgeable scholar. His lack of formal college education did not prevent Hughes from producing work that has had a great influence on literature and culture.
Impact of Education on Hughes
Hughes’ experiences in education showed up in his writing and helped to shape the ideas he presented in his poetry and prose. Many of his later famous works, such as “The Weary Blues” and “Not Without Laughter” were written during and about his time in the Harlem Renaissance movement. His educational experiences and subsequent knowledge of the black struggle helped to provide him with the inspiration and confidence to write about such issues.
For many African American scholars during this time, Hughes’ works weren’t merely entertainment, but instead served as sources of knowledge. Hughes was able to provide a unique and in-depth perspective on his experiences by providing a unique voice to what was a long-silenced and previously down-trodden culture.
Hughes’ educational research and experiences truly shaped his work; it was this research and experience that provided the foundation for Hughes to produce the work that is famous today. His writings are celebrated for the passionate, yet honest and dignified way with which he discussed socio-political issues of race, identity, and oppression.
Legacy of Hughes in Education
The legacy of Langston Hughes in education is also evident in the way he inspired numerous students, particularly African American students.
Many of today’s top African American scholars credit Hughes’ work with being influential to their own journeys. Hughes’ work has been cited as the source of motivation for passionate scholars, who are striving to make an impact in their own work. By taking inspiration from Hughes’ words, African American scholars can use their knowledge and learn from his writing to better understand the historical and current state of African American culture.
In addition to inspiring generations of scholars, Hughes also influenced educational institutions. Schools across the country have adopted Hughes’ works by making them mandatory reading texts in their curriculums. Furthermore, several institutions have established honors programs in Hughes’ name to recognize the significance of his work in the history of African American literature.
Langston Hughes’ educational background served as an avenue for the exploration and expression of his ambitions as a writer. His experiences in formal and informal education, in classrooms and libraries alike, were instrumental in the development of his powerful works. He was a thought-provoking and passionate writer whose works used education as a tool to portray the struggles of African Americans. His writings continue to influence today’s generations of African American scholars, while his legacy as an educator is reflected in numerous honors programs and educational institutions around the nation.