Langston Hughes Birthday | February 1st


This day marks the birth of the African American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer and columnist Langston Hughes who was born in Missouri on February 1, 1902. spent most of his childhood in Lawrence, Kansas where he was raised by his maternal grandmother. Foreshadowing his career, in elementary school Hughes was selected as the class poet, about which he said, “I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everyone knows – except us – that all Negroes have rhythm, so they elected me as class poet.” By high school he was writing for the school newspaper and yearbook, as well as beginning to write poetry and short stories on his own. Hughes attended Columbia University in New York, which he left after a year citing racial prejudice. However, this was his first introduction to Harlem, a primarily African American neighborhood surrounding Columbia, which would become his muse and home. He famously stated, “Harlem was in vogue.” Through his writing he explored issues of racism, injustice, culture and spirituality. Hughes also recognized arts renaissance happening in Harlem and was highly influenced by other mediums, including jazz and photography. Some of his most famous works are Let America Be America Again, Sweet Flypaper of Life (with photography by Roy DeCarava), Montage of a Dream Deferred and The Mulatto. He passed away on May 22, 1967 and his ashes are interred at the Arthur Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

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