Langston Hughes

By: Maddy Smith

Early Life

James Mercer Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. His parents James Hughes and Carrie Langston separated after his birth. Because of racism in the United States, his dad moved to Mexico. Hughes was raised mainly by his grandmother Mary until she died in his early teenage years. After her death he went to live with his mother. They moved around a lot before settling in Cleveland, Ohio. During that time he started to write poetry. He was elected class poet, and graduated high school in 1920.


During the “Harlem Renaissance” period in the 1920’s is when Langston Hughes first became known as an upcoming literary figure. His first work was largely criticized by the educated black community because they felt he gave a negative view of black life. Some even called it a disgrace to the race. Although Hughes had trouble with both black and white critics, he was the first black American to earn his living solely from his writing and public lectures.Although, he had trouble with the critics, he was the first black writer to earn a living with his writings and lectures alone. His success came because average black people accepted him and his work.

What Some People thought About Langston Hughes?


It was widely rumored that Langston Hughes was gay, but he never admitted to this openly, although there seems to be indications in his work.

The Death of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes died of complications from prostate cancer in May 22, 1967, in New York. In his memory, his residence at 20 East 127th Street in Harlem, New York City, has been given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission, and East 127th Street has been renamed "Langston Hughes Place."