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CristeOn Waters
Mrs.Voegele & Mrs.Riedl
American Literature
12, November 2015
Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
Langston Hughes has written numerous amounts of poems that highlight the African American
culture and their struggle of being victims of discrimination. Langston Hughes was born on
February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Mo. (Langston). His parents James Hughes and Carrie Langston
separated shortly after his birth, and his father moved to Mexico. (Langston). Hughes mother
frequently moved around throughout his youth, this lead him to be primarily raised by his
grandmother. (Langston). After his grandmother passed he went on to move with his mother,
they moved around often before finally settling in Cleveland, Ohio. (Langston). It was during
this time when he first started to write poetry, publishing his first poem in 1921. (Langston).
Langston Hughes writing was influenced by the culture and discrimination that went on in his
life. His use of metaphors and similes shows how he fits into the poetry genre of American
Literature.
Hughes graduated from high school in 1920 and spent the following year in Mexico with
his father. (Langston). Around this time, Hughes poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers was
published in The Crisis magazine and was highly praised. (Langston). In 1945, Hughes
published I, Too, Sing America a patriotic poem envisioning a day in which whites and blacks
will eat at the table together in which black citizens will be truly classified as equal Americans.
(Shmoop Editorial Team). After meeting Carl Van Vechten, a novelist and critic, Hughes
published his poem The Weary Blues in 1926. (Langston). This established his poetic style
and also his commitment to black themes and heritage. The popular poem, Mother to Son by

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Hughes was about a boy being told by his mother to never give up even when life gets hard
because her life aint been no crystal stair (Mintz and McNeil).
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural explosion that took place in New York City
during the 1920s and 30s giving rise to popular jazz, art, and poetry. Hughes often wrote about
his pain and uniqueness of other African-Americans. He showed his white audience what life
was like for an African- American, sensitizing them. Sadly, racism wasnt going away. Many
times African- Americans were banned from attending the same clubs with whites as customers.
Blacks were often the entertainment or served as waiters and kitchen helpers ("The Roaring
Twenties"). The 1920s were supposed to be a revolution in morals and manners, the 20s were
also the first decade to have a nickname, The Jazz Age. The 20s were described as a great
party because everyone was having fun, making money, and dancing the Charleston. This
opened up a time of female emancipation after the women won the right to vote in 1920. Women,
known as Flappers, were daring woman that rebelled against society. They smoked in public,
danced until three, and even discovered the romantic possibilities of the automobile. Not only did
women start acting different but they also started dressing different. They wore dresses that
showed the knees and even started wearing bathing suits to reveal more of their body. The
change of women was not the only drastic change during the Harlem renaissance, so was
entertainment. Movies and big time sports also made big news in the 1920s. Over 100 million
Americans went to movies and games every year. Men started imitating sideburns and hairstyles
from movies for sex appeal. Not only were movies popular but so were sports including baseball,
football, and boxing. Babe Ruth became a very popular baseball player after setting a record of
59 homeruns in a season in 1924. (Mintz and McNeil). The Harlem Renessance became a
popular era, known for uniting citizens of different races not only in New York, but in America.

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Langston Hughes was a notorious American poet that was discriminated against for being
African American. He tried changing the white mans perspective of how blacks were treated
during his life span. Throughout the 1920s, Hughes wrote countless works of poetry that became
very meaningful as time progressed. Many important people had a great influence on Langston
Hughes life and poetry including American poet, Vachel Lindsay, and a novelist and critic, Carl
Can Vechten. In 1925, Hughes poem The Weary Blues won first prize in a competition and one
year later, The Weary Blues was published by Knopf. On May, 22, 1967, Langston Hughes
passed away from complications of prostate cancer. To keep his legacy, Hughes home, on East
127th street, received New York City Landmark status in 1981 and was added to the National
Register of Places in 1982. Langston Hughes poetry and impact on the Harlem Renaissance will
forever have a place in history. (Langston).
Langston Hughes created meaningful poetry during the 1920s telling his perspective as
an African-American male. Hughes begin to be praised for his work after publishing his first
poem in 1921. He established a unique poetic style and his commitment to black themes. During
Hughes time the Harlem Renaissance took place in New York giving rise to jazz and poetry.
This open a door for women to gain more freedom in the 1920s. Not only did women make
change but sports started to become very popular during this time. On May 22, 1967 Langston
Hughes life came to an end after passing away, making himself a rememberable African
American poet. Although Hughes is no longer here his writings still have a great impact on the
world today.

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Works Cited
Boyd, Amanda. Poetry. Writers Encyclopedia. 3rd ed. 1996. Print.
"Langston Hughes." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "I, Too, Sing America." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov.
2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
"The Roaring Twenties." Resources for Teaching History : 1416 (2010): n. pag. Digital History.
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