Why Langston Hughes Is Famous

Early Life

Langston Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was a baby, and his father moved away. Raised by his mother and her family, Hughes became one of the greatest poets of the Harlem Renaissance, a flourishing of African-American art and culture in the 1920s. He gained recognition for his narrative poetry and stories that highlighted the experiences and struggles of African-Americans.

He was impressed by his grandfather’s way of reciting the Bible and started writing poetry when he was thirteen. In 1920, he moved to New York to attend Columbia University for a year, but never graduated because of financial anxieties. He made his debut in magazine writing by publishing “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” in The Crisis, the magazine of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. This work brought him profits, fame, and became one of the most referenced pieces of his writings.

Accomplishments and Literary Achievements

Langston Hughes’ work was unique in its examination of black life and its combination of African-American spirituals, blues, and jazz into a new type of poetry. His works were often disguised criticism of social class distinctions, racial divisions and imperialism. He wrote about the disenchantment of black communities, the feelings of inferiority, the loss of faith in the white man, and the need for a race to deliver itself from bondage.

From 1926 to 1938, Langston Hughes published 14 volumes of poems, short stories and plays, exploring topics such as African-American history, race, identity and racism. His most celebrated books include Quicksand and The Ways of White Folks, as well as Not Without Laughter, which earned him the Harmon Gold Award for literature. He was also the author of numerous books for children, including: The Sweet and Sour Animal Book, The First Book of Negro Americans, and The First Book of Rhythms.

Poetic Style

A recurring theme throughout the works of Langston Hughes is the exclusion of African-Americans from the benefits of progress in the United States. This was reflected in the rejection of traditional ordering and structure; for example, Hughes’ poems avoided the traditional European rhyme schemes. The jazz-like rhythms, free-verse cadences, and vivid images in his works could be recognized as African-American culture in written form.

Hughes’ use of dialect, drawn from the black vernacular, was a unique element in his work. His characters speak a version of the English language that conveys a sense of defiance, but in a poetic way. He often used a blend of standard English and dialect in the same poem, forcing readers out of their comfort zone and creating an evocative mix of emotions.

Political Activism

Another important element of Langston Hughes’ work was his commitment to African-American civil rights and social justice. Despite his optimism surrounding the possibilities of interracial harmony, Hughes was frank and realistic with his observations on race, prejudice and politics. His artistic output and role as a cultural spokesperson led him to become a leader in the struggle for civil rights and economic justice.

His activism was especially evident in his collection of essays, entitled Black Power, in which he advised readers to “Use the ballot or the bullet” and to “Let your motto be resistance”. He was a key player in the “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign, which was organized by the African-American community to help end segregation in hiring in northern cities during the Great Depression.


Despite early struggles in his career and difficulties with financial stability, Langston Hughes had an impressive list of credits. His contributions to literature, civil rights, and social justice will never be forgotten. His ability to capture the mood of the times and speak to the struggles of African-Americans in the United States have made his works timeless. His legacy is carried on through the countless teachers, students, and admirers of his work.

Numerous literary awards, including the American Academy’s Gold Medal, have been created in his name. His house in Harlem has been designated a National Historic Site, and the Rosa Parks Library and Museum honors his groundbreaking work. Langston Hughes is revered as a master of American poetry and an advocate of African-American dignity.

Influence on Later Generations

Langston Hughes played a major role in shaping the African-American literary landscape. His influence is evident in many of today’s most acclaimed African-American writers. His willingness to confront issues of racism and degradation head on, combined with his lyrical use of language, inspired many to pursue literature as a way of speaking to the struggles faced by African-Americans.

The works of Hughes have been studied by scholars, appropriated by pop culture, and recreated by artists from all genres. His influence can be seen in a variety of forms, from the work of contemporary writers like Toni Morrison, to visual art and film. Since his death in 1967, his work has been celebrated as part of the African-American cultural tradition.

Harlem Renaissance

Langston Hughes is known as one of the most influential writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a flourishing of African-American culture that began in Harlem, New York in the 1920s. It was a period of great artistic and literary output, spearheaded by writers like Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jean Toomer. The movement also brought attention to African-American musicians, such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Cab Calloway.

The Harlem Renaissance was a time when African-American literature and music were celebrated, and it served to inspire generations of future African-American writers, musicians, and activists. Langston Hughes’ plays, poetry, and novels documenting his experiences as an African-American have had a lasting impact on literature.


Langston Hughes is an influential American poet and author whose work has been celebrated since its inception in the 1920s. His unique poetic style and commitment to African-American culture and civil rights drew recognition from the literary world and established him as one of the most iconic figures of the Harlem Renaissance. His works continue to inspire new generations of readers and poets, and his legacy stands tall in the world of literature.

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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