Langston Hughes

The Poet of the Renaissance

The Life of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1901 in Joplin, Missouri. Langston's parents separated soon after Hughes was born, and his father moved to Mexico. Hughes was raised primarily by his grandmother until she died when Hughes was just a teenager. After that, Hughes lived with his mother and they settled down in Cleveland, Ohio. During this time is when Hughes started to write poetry. Langston Hughes published one of his better known poems "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" in 1921, the year after he graduated from High School. Langston Hughes worked as a bus boy in Washington, D.C. where he met American poet Vachel Lindsay who was impressed with Hughes's poems. Lindsay used her connections to promote Hughes's poems and eventually bring them to a wider audience. In 1925, Hughes won the Opportunity magazine literary competition with his poem "The Weary Blues." He won a scholarship to Lincoln University and graduated in 1929. Throughout the rest of his life, Hughes published many more books, including 2 autobiographies, contributed lyrics to a Broadway musical, and wrote a column nicknamed "Simple." Hughes died of prostate cancer on May 22, 1967.
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers"

This button will take you to an audio recording of Langston Hughes reciting "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." This piece is significant because It was the piece of poetry that really got Langston Hughes famous.

American Significance

Langston Hughes's poetry influenced many things. Mostly, his poems helped shape American literature and politics. Also, Hughes had a strong sense of racial pride, which led others to follow in his footsteps. Hughes was a big part of the Harlem Renaissance which changed our country for the better. He led protests and inspired people around the country to write what they feel. Hughes influence lived on even after he passed and his house was added to the National Register of Places in 1982.
"The Weary Blues"

This button will take you to the poem that Langston Hughes submitted to the "Opportunity" magazine literary competition.

Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Crash Course Literature 215
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers"

This button will take you to one of Langston Hughes's most famous poems, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."

Modern Poet Connection

I can link Langston Hughes to Patrick Phillips because they have the same style of writing. Patrick Philips. Philips enjoys gentle writing and usually includes himself in his writings. Like Hughes, Phillips writes his poems with some aspect of nature. They both went to college in New York. Poets have changed since the 1920's. Hughes spoke at protests and read his poems wherever he felt it necessary. Today, you can't do that without being arrested. Some things never change though. Hughes got famous with a friend's help, and people still become well-known that way. It's not like you are born famous, you have to earn it, just like all the poets of the Renaissance did.

This is a poem by Patrick Phillips that will help you understand the relation between Phillips and Hughes