When Did Langston Hughes Live


Langston Hughes was an African-American poet, novelist, playwright, and social activist. He was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. He was the second child of James Nathaniel and Carrie Mercer Langston Hughes. His father left the family soon after Hughes’ birth, and the family moved to Lawrence, Kansas, during the period of the Great Migration. His mother was of multi-racial ancestry and his father was of African-American, European and Native American descent. Hughes’ attended Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio and later transferred to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he studied literature and philosophy.

Influences and Achievements

Hughes was influenced by music and folklore as a child, and his poetry was largely influenced by the blues, jazz, and spirituals. He was an avid and vocal supporter of the “New Negro Movement,” a cultural and scholarly movement which celebrated African-American culture and art and sought to empower African Americans through education, the arts, and politics. His specific contributions to the movement included his poetry and his magazine The Crisis.
Interest in his work increased steadily after his 1918 publication of “The Negro speaks of Rivers” (1918). As his influence on African American culture expanded, Hughes published a wide range of works including poetry, novels, plays, and celebratory essays on African American culture. His widely renowned novel Not without Laughter (1930), was based on his own experiences as a child.


Langston Hughes’ poetry was influential amongst the Harlem Renaissance movement. He was part of the “New Negro Movement”, celebrating African American culture and art, and gave a platform to those seeking to fight racism through the written word. His works influenced postmodernist and contemporary black writers and signified a new possibility for African-American writers.
Further extending his legacy, Hughes served as a professor at numerous prestigious universities during his lifetime, includinga position at Atlanta University, teaching creative writing and literature. In his memory, many awards have been created in his honor, such as the Langston Hughes Fellowship for Creative Writing at Columbia University and the Langston Hughes Award for Minority Novelists at the American Library Association.

Death and Posthumous Recognition

Langston Hughes died of prostate cancer in New York City on May 22, 1967 and was buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church Cemetery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Since his death, Hughes’ works have continued to be honored and remembered, such as a stamp issued in his name by the United States Postal Service in 1994 and a State Historical Marker at the corner of East 123rd Street and Park Avenue in New York City. His works have also been recognized for their poignant use of African American themes.

Personal Life

At the peak of his career, Hughes resided in Harlem and regularly shared his social and artistic experiences with writers and intellectuals he encountered. Though many women were drawn to him, Hughes decided to remain deliberately single. In his personal life, Hughes enjoyed traveling, meeting with fellow intellectuals and was well-known for his prolific writing.

Popular Works and Honors

Among one of his most well-known works, Hughes wrote his 1926 poem “The Weary Blues”, which centers around jazz and the blues and reflects Hughes’ dedication to the African American culture. He was also the first African American to be awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP.
Furthermore, Langston Hughes is recognized as one of the best known poets of the Harlem Renaissance. He was awarded the Harmon Gold Medal for literature, and was posthumously inducted into National Writers Hall of Fame. In addition, he won many awards and accolades during his lifetime, including the Anisfield-Wolf Award, the most prominent award bestowed to African-Americans authors in 1977.

Impact On Literature

Hughes’ impact on American culture and literature was immeasurable. His moving, honest works left an indelible mark on literature. From his work, readers were able to learn about the struggles and experiences of African-Americans during the early twentieth century. He wrote about topics regarding race, racism, and the importance of standing up for one’s own rights. His writing was the starting point for a generation of writers and thinkers from all backgrounds.

How Hughes’ Writing Engages with Contemporary Culture

Langston Hughes’ poetry remains relevant, engaging readers with its themes of family and identity, of poverty, in his words poetry “growin’ like a tree” and of hope in the African American struggle. His work was engaging to contemporary audiences because it spoke to their experience. His writing celebrates the power of the African American culture to survive and thrive in the face of oppression. For example, such works as “I, Too” and “Let America Be America Again” not only represent his own struggle, but the challenges faced by African-Americans to this day.

Exploration of Romantic and Natural Themes

In Hughes’s works, themes of romance and nature were prominent, often referring to the beauty of his environment and culture. His works often evoke beauty through lyrical description of his environment, capturing the essence of nature and its refreshment of the soul. He often wrote of love and passion, often in a manner that spoke of his commitment to liberation from racial oppression and injustice. A perfect example of this is “Dream Boogie”, where he writes of the difficulties that African Americans faced, but also of their advantage to rise: “But the Boogie-Woogie rumble of a dream/ Gots to roll on down to -some ol’ drone.”

Exploration of Diversity

Langston Hughes often explored the issues of diversity and intersectionality in his poetry. His works often explore issues like race, racism, gender, and sexuality, drawing his readers into his poetic world of expression and liberation. For example, he wrote “Cross” to explore the idea of race and its effect on a relationship. In addition, “My Negro Lady” speaks to the struggles of recognizing and celebrating the individual beauty and strength of African American women. His works speak to readers on a profound level and explore the complexities of identity and diversity in the African American community.

The Lasting Impact of Langston Hughes

The lasting impact of Langston Hughes was felt for decades after his writing, and his work continues to be relevant in the 21st century, praised for giving voice to African-American struggles and culture. His work has been the inspiration for countless writers and social activists, and his influence continues to be seen in the works of modern writers. Langston Hughes’ legacy of poetic expression and advocacy for justice is sure to stay alive for generations to come.

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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