James Mercer Langston Hughes February 1,  — May 22, was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He moved to New York City as a young man, where he made his career. One of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry , Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "the negro was in vogue", which was later paraphrased as "when Harlem was in vogue. Growing up in a series of Midwestern towns, Hughes became a prolific writer at an early age. Although he dropped out, he gained notice from New York publishers, first in The Crisis magazine, and then from book publishers and became known in the creative community in Harlem. He eventually graduated from Lincoln University. In addition to poetry, Hughes wrote plays, and short stories.
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By This Poet
Langston Hughes was the first black writer in America to earn his living from writing. He attended Columbia University from but left, disillusioned by the coolness of his white peers. His homosexuality remained hidden throughout his life, and referred to in his writing only through coded references, in the manner of one of his literary heroes, Walt Whitman. However, he did feel able to speak out against the racial oppression he witnessed all around him and had experienced first hand, and his first poems were published in the magazine Crisis which was run by the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. After leaving University, Hughes travelled, first on a freighter to Africa — where the lack of political and economic freedom of the native people disturbed him — and then extensively in Europe before heading back to the USA. On his return he published his first collection, The Weary Blues , to great acclaim.
Biography: Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance , the flowering of black intellectual, literary, and artistic life that took place in the s in a number of American cities, particularly Harlem. A major poet, Hughes also wrote novels, short stories, essays, and plays. If white people are pleased we are glad. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. This approach was not without its critics. And still are. In anything that white people were likely to read, they wanted to put their best foot forward, their politely polished and cultural foot—and only that foot. Some, like James Baldwin, were downright malicious about his poetic achievement. He had the wit and intelligence to explore the black human condition in a variety of depths, but his tastes and selectivity were not always accurate, and pressures to survive as a black writer in a white society and it was a miracle that he did for so long extracted an enormous creative toll.
We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. We know we are beautiful.