When Was Langston Hughes Born And Died

Langston Hughes was a celebrated African-American poet, novelist, playwright, and social activist during the Harlem Renaissance. Born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes was a prominent figure who heavily focused his work on racial relations. He wrote numerous pieces of literature that highlighted the importance of equality and civil rights during a time of great racial discrimination and strife. From a young age, Hughes attended schools in multiple states and traveled extensively, all of which greatly influenced his work. In his later years, Hughes was awarded a range of prestigious honors including a Pulitzer Prize nomination, a Rhodes Scholarship, a Harmon Foundation award, and several honorary degrees. He passed away on May 22, 1967, in New York City due to complications from the prostate cancer he had been secretly battling for several years. His legacy remains strong to this day, and his impact resonates around the world.


Hughes attended many different schools growing up as his family was often on the move and his mother frequently changing jobs. From a young age, he showed a deep interest in writing and literature. At age thirteen, he had already published his first poem in The Crisis, a prominent magazine of the NAACP. He later moved to Cleveland, Ohio and attended Central High School where he wrote the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which is widely considered the beginning of Hughes’ career as a respected poet and writer. After graduating in 1920, Hughes moved to New York City and attended Columbia University. While there, he joined a prominent multiracial literary club and wrote his first novel, Not Without Laughter, which was published in 1930. While attending school, Hughes traveled across the United States and abroad, writing and learning about different cultures.


Hughes’ writing heavily focused on strong themes of racial strength and justice. He celebrated African American culture and an appreciation for brotherhood among different racial groups. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Hughes was a leading voice in an explosive period of creative presence and cultural pride. Although Hughes was highly praised for his poetic works and prose, he also used his writing to create lasting change during a tumultuous time in American history. He was a strong advocate for civil rights and voiced his opinion with conviction. His works helped to bring inequality and injustice to light, giving a voice to those who may not have otherwise been heard.

Works and Accomplishments

Hughes published numerous works throughout his career, including fourteen books of poetry, two novels, and three collections of short stories. He also wrote plays, essays, and autobiographies. His most critically acclaimed writings include The Weary Blues (1926), Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951), and his controversial How Not to Follow Leaders and Do Your Own Thing (1962). Orson Welles, an American film director and actor, also mass produced Hughes’ plays The Harvest and Don’t You Want to be Free? in the 1930s. Aside from his remarkable writing accomplishments, Hughes was honored by many prestigious awards in his later years. He was nominated for the Pulitzer prize, received a Rhodes Scholarship, awarded a Harmon Foundation award, and was also the recipient of several honorary degrees.


Hughes was an iconic figure for his writings and activism that continue to inspire writers and activists today. His poem “Let America Be America Again” (1936) is often cited in present-day civil rights meetings, speeches, and debates. Hughes’ legacy is a pervasive presence perpetuating in literature programs, literature clubs, and university classes around the world. His influence has gone beyond literature and arts, and his works have been used as a political platform for current social justice and racial issues. Hughes will be remembered for generations to come for his contributions to literature, civil rights, and social activism.


Hughes is most recognized for his unique ability to combine wit and wisdom in his writing. He is acknowledged as the pioneer of jazz poetry, using the rhythms of music in his verses. Hughes was greatly influenced his surroundings and was able to authentically capture the world in words. He had a unique style that allowed him to meld themes of racial pride, folk culture, and a love of music into every one of his works. He was a master of using vivid descriptions and imagery in his rhymes and verse, drawing in readers and captivating them with his words.


From a young age, Hughes had a deep love for the arts and literature. After publishing his first poem in The Crisis at age thirteen, he went on to write many influential works that greatly contributed to the civil rights movement. His travels and changing lifestyle also had a major influence on his writing and helped to shape his already impressive style. Hughes’ works and advocacy for equal rights paved the way for future generations and will continue to reverberate in literature and activism for years to come.


Hughes drew inspiration from many musical styles and forms, such as jazz and blues. His poems often included musical lines and rhythms that emulated the sounds of his favorite musical genres. He was also influenced by Russian writers, Latin American authors, and African-American culture. Hughes was an avid reader and immensely appreciated the writers who came before him. This admiration is reflected in his works, which are full of reverence and appreciation for literature and literature. Hughes had a unique ability to combine his experiences, his travels, and his deep appreciation of art into a single style of writing that has greatly impacted the literary landscape.


Above all, Hughes was an activist for civil rights and racial equality. His work was written with the intention of inspiring readers to stand up and fight for the rights of all people, regardless of their background. His works were often mainstays in civil rights meetings and speeches, and his legacy continues to remain a vital influence in the civil rights movement. His writing set the standard for generations of authors, and his influence will forever continue to be an example of what it means to stand for justice and equality.

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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