What Were Some Of Langston Hughes Major Accomplishments

What Were Some of Langston Hughes Major Accomplishments?

Langston Hughes was an extraordinary figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a dynamic global artistic and intellectual movement during the 1920s. Although born in Missouri in 1902, Hughes spent much of his life in New York City. As one of the leading figures in the cultural contributions of African Americans, Hughes is best known for his unique poetry about the black experience in the United States. As a poet, he is notable for his powerful messages conveyed through both free verse and consistenly rhymed poetry. He was also an important playwright, essayist and novelist. He used a range of literary devices to convey his intended messages to readers. His work touched the lives of many and continues to do so today.

Hughes’ first major work of writing was a poem published in 1921. His first book of verse, “The Weary Blues,” was published in 1926 and took the literary world by storm. Throughout his lifetime, Hughes wrote many poems, short stories and articles, earning international fame and recognitions of excellence. In addition to his many works, Hughes was also actively involved in politics, helping to brought about the National Negro Congress in 1936. He was also heavily involved with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, firmly believing in the equal political rights of all people.

One of Hughes’ major accomplishments was in the area of poetry. He was one of the earliest proponents of the idea of presenting the Black experience in literature. His most famous poem, “Harlem,” fundamentally questions the meaning of deferred dreams. In this poem, Hughes examines the condition of African Americans between dreams and reality; in his words, dreams that “dry up like a raisin in the sun.” The poem is often seen as a call to arms to the African American population, to strive to make their dreams come true, no matter the obstacles.

In addition to writing, Hughes was also an educator. He was a professor at numerous universities, including the historically black college, Fisk University, and held various workshops and seminars to encourage creativity in young people. He is particularly known for his involvement in the Pan African Writers Association. Through this organization, he was able to publish dozens of books and stories that showcased the culture and life of black Americans.

Hughes’ creativity and black activism live on today, inspiring people of all backgrounds and ages. He was an essential figure in African-American literature, particularly for his poems and stories about the black experience. He was also involved in other areas of art, such as playwriting, essay writing, and the Harlem Renaissance. His legacy is highly-regarded to this day, both in the United States and around the world.

Black Experience

Langston Hughes was praised and seen as a crucial figure in bringing forth the Black experience to the world. He believed in black people’s equal place in society and wanted to fight for it through his work. He wanted to paint an honest picture of his community and people through his pieces, capturing the very essence of the challenging circumstances and beauty of life that black people experienced. Hughes broke away from the Romantic belief that poetry needed to follow certain structures, like a series of rhymes and strict rules, in order to comprehend it. He often wrote in “free verse” meaning without rhyme of much of another structure, which challenged the values of some members of the black middle class. He was also very aware of how important it was to, in his words, “stay positive or nothing at all” and focus on the power of race and cultural identity in his writing instead of lamenting over the injustices. He wrote of contemporary issues, often weaving in allusions to classical works, most famously in “Harlem”, and enforced optimism through his work.

Hughes praised African American life and culture through works like “Fine Clothes to the Jew” where he wrote of the value of the intense culture and story that black Americans had to offer in contrast to the strict rules of the white social system. He even wrote about acknowledging the struggles of his community, like in “I Too Sing America” where he conveys the pain of having to forego recognition and still count himself as a part of society. To Hughes, the black community was a vessel of creativity and ingenuity that should not be diminished by the nation’s interpretation. He sought to express the pride, struggle and abundance of black life through his work.

Harlem Renaissance

During the 1920s, Hughes was a principal figure of the Harlem Renaissance and an influential part of the African American literary movement. He was a major source of inspiration to the many emerging African American writers of the time and provided a final key influence to catapult the burst of innovation and experimentation in the area of African American arts and cultures into full swing. In 1926, his first collection of poetry, The Weary Blues, was quickly recognized by publishers, resulting in an invitation to become a contributing editor for Opportunity Magazine, the most important African American “little magazine” of the time. Reflecting on the period, Hughes would later declare: “The Negro was in vogue … I met and spoke with young college students who were writing poetry. Harlem was in vogue!”

Questions of identity in terms of African American culture, literature and art were central topics of discussion of the movement. Hughes wrote on various forms of expression of that new concept, constantly providing new and often daring perspectives on the life and culture of African Americans. In his writing, Hughes dealt with topics such as racial discrimination, poverty, and other aspects of the black experience. He explored these topics in multiple formats, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction and even music. His work was both experimental and traditional, transferring his views on his people’s life and struggle in a sincere, engaging and often poetically-unbounded fashion.

The impact he had on the period was immense. Through his writing, he reached large audiences with his messages of racial pride, hope and progress. His poetry was an example for many “free-verse” poets of the time period, but, more importantly, his messages inspired a significant activism in the African American community and raised European studies, literature and thoughts regarding racial discrimination and prejudice.


Hughes’ legacy goes beyond his works and involves both his activism, as well as his contribution to the global appreciation of African American culture. His vision of the new African American art and literature shaped the beginning of the modern era. His influence was especially evident in two media: jazz and literature. He is often quoted as saying “I hear the voice of someone singing/ Always I hear a rhythmical ring.” This phrase exemplifies how Hughes combined both music and literature in his work, ushering in a new era of African American harmony.

Throughout his life and long after his death, Hughes has remained an iconic figure and a revered figure in the African American literary and cultural world. In addition to his inclusion in numerous anthologies and textbooks, his memory lives on in multiple institutions around the United States that either bear his name or have collections that reflect his contributions to society.

Langston Hughes’ remarkable accomplishments in literature remain a source of inspiration to people of all backgrounds. His writings and activism were nothing short of groundbreaking, inspiring the new generations of African Americans to always stand proud and strive for excellence. His legacy will live on forever, and his works need to be championed and respected.

Black American Dialogue and Expression

Langston Hughes’ writing was unique and provocative in its approach to challenge the status quo and validate the African American identity. His work and outspokenness concerning black liberation ignited discussion and gave a platform to exchange of thoughts between the African-American and Jewish populations, as well as the Caucasian majority. His work was seen as the poet of the people, speaking from and on behalf of the collective black Americans and their cultural practices, difficult and inspiring history, and the potential to embrace their identity. Hughes’ writing was honest and blunt about their experiences, using the black vernacular for greater effect and to emphasize the relevance, importance, and beauty of the black culture.

The recognition of black worth, experience and intelligence, especially in today’s present context, is often still limited in literature and other forms of expression. Through his work, Hughes attempted to expand the reach of black representation. He was one of the fundamental movers of the Harlem Renaissance, promoting emancipation with the reclaiming of their language and cultural heritage, giving a voice to the struggles they were facing and inspiring the collective strength of the minority group to fight against inequality. His work established a safe and celebrated space for the expression of African American culture and the reclamation of their very own story, as opposed to merely relating theirs to a white narrative.

Tools of resistance such as the art of blackness and the elevation of awareness of the African-American culture were tactics that Hughes employed to combat oppression. He expressed their unspoken trauma and their passionate resilience, creating a shared understanding of their identity and involving them in the discussion about identity in an inclusive way, presenting the difficulties that minorities faced and still bravely persist on through.

Relevance and Reflection

Although Langston Hughes wrote nearly 100 years ago, his work and message remain relevant in today’s society. The stigma and “us-versus-them” mentality between various races, religions, and even political ideologies still exist in many parts of the world. In a way, it is up to us, like Hughes did, to ensure that we continue to fight back against it and to spark conversations meant to help us understand and accept each other better. By actively understanding and communicating amongst ourselves, we can run the risk of bringing the opposite sides closer together and breaking the stigma barrier.

Hughes believed firmly in the value of literature and its ability to evoke change. His work teaches readers to value their identity and be proud of their heritage, but also to stay resilient and persevere, no matter the struggle. He was also a great promoter of self-determination and a driving force for the African American confluence and collective action. His messages are still pertinent today and are used around the world for collective progress and protests for equality.

Though Langston Hughes died in 1967, his impact lives on in countless ways. His immense body of work and activism have been immortalized in literature and academia, as well as everyday conversations and actions. His writings were not only able to inspire huge civil rights movements, but also give voice to a century of black struggle, inhumane living conditions and oppression. He challenged dominant ideologies and influenced generations of civil rights activists and his words are still relevant in the fight for equality to this day.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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