Langston Hughes


Arya Nade, School News Writer


Breaking shackles and battling racism. One of the earliest innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry, Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes (1902-1967) was born in Joplin, Missouri, but mostly grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. He was a poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He lived in Harlem after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Hughes is primarily known for his insightful portrayals of American -American life through the 1920s and 1960s. 

Famous Works

  1. The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1921)
  2. The Weary Blues, Knopf, 1926.
  3. The Negro Mother and Other Dramatic Recitations, 1931.
  4. Dear Lovely Death, 1931.

A Closer Look at One of His Poems


Hughes’ poem, “I, Too Sing America,” addresses some of the major themes of his works including racism and racist stereotypes, fighting for equality and rights, and accepting being black as something to be proud of. Hughes describes the way African-Americans have been excluded from American society and mistreated solely because of the color of their skin. However, he goes on to argue that even through all the exclusion and obstacles, African-Americans will keep rising and will preserve their own culture and identities. He indicates that one day white Americans will have no choice but to realize how beautiful and powerful African-Americans are. In that moment they will be ashamed of themselves for mistreating black people for centuries and not realizing their importance sooner. On that day, he and other African-Americans will be accepted as Americans as well. In the poem he refers to white Americans as “brothers” to show that he holds no resentment towards them, instead simply wants to be accepted as a part of the nation he lives in. Even though black people have been treated unjustly, Hughes says “But I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong,” to depict his mindset and willingness to find a peaceful solution. Hughes communicates that he would never fight but instead laugh it off and prove his worthiness through success. While white people who are stuck in the past debate whether Black people deserve human rights or not, Hughes will do everything in his power to succeed and attain the same rights that are given to white citizens. The works of Hughes aim to give Black lives a voice by providing an insight into the experiences of black people as well as their hopes for a better future in which they are accepted as equals.