Langston Hughes

Tehya Robinson

A Brief Biography of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was born on Feb 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. Very soon after his birth, Langston Hughes' parents separated and his father moved to Mexico. From 1903 to 1915, Hughes lived with his grandmother, Mary. Later, in his teens, Mary died. Afterwards he went to go live with his mom. Around this time, Hughes began writing poetry, which he was introduced to by one of his teachers. Hughes graduated high school in 1920. During this time, Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” was published in The Crisis magazine and was greatly recognized with high praises. In 1921, Hughes enrolled at Columbia University where he studied for a little while. Then he got involved with the Harlem Renaissance and dropped out of school for a while.

In 1925, as a busboy working in a Washington, D.C. restaurant, Langston Hughes ran into Vachel Lindsay, an American poet. She read his poems and loved them, so she used her special connections to bring Hughes’ poetry to a larger audience. Hughes’ book of poetry, The Weary Blues, won him a lot of money and prizes. The Weary Blues also won him a scholarship at Lincoln University where he finished school and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. After his college graduation from Lincoln, Hughes published his first novel, Not Without Laughter. After the success of the book, Langston Hughes then realized that he could greatly live a successful life as a writer. Langston Hughes died on May 22, 1967 due to prostate cancer.

The Impact

During the 1920s, Langston Hughes introduced a different type of poetry. He created a more freely and loosely spoken type of poetry creating a more fun, or accepting type of atmosphere rather than a sophisticated atmosphere while performing. Hughes was among one of the first to use jazz rythms while performing. Langston Hughes was also one of the leading faces of the Harlem Renessaince.
Mini Bio: Langston Hughes

Movie Questions!

  1. Why was Langston Hughes important?
  2. What was Hughes' first and most famous poem? Why was it so famous?