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Langston Hughes—looking ahead
Posted: Sunday, February 26, 2012

Langston Hughes said that he was influenced most by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman[1]. His residence in Harlem, New York has landmark status, and his block was renamed "Langston Hughes Place".

Langston Hughes did more than create beautiful poetry, plays, books and essays. He pioneered social change through his work and by his example. He did this despite tall odds. He did this because he could not deny his own identity.

In 1923, Langston traveled abroad on a freighter to Senegal, Nigeria, the Cameroons, Belgium Congo, Angola, and Guinea in Africa. These countries were still oppressed by European colonial rule. But the people were strong willed. European magistrates could kill, imprison and torture populations for decades. They could master people economically by force, but they could not control their character. And these colonial subjects shared ancestors with millions of Americans—people like Langston Hughes who were free of slavery yet still a long ways from true equality.

One of Hughes’ renowned essays was entitled "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" and was published in the
Nation in 1926. The writer speaks of commitment to his people, the strength of his convictions and of his firm belief that what others think should not, will not control his message or distort the way that he tells his story.

“We build our temples for tomorrow, as strong as we know how and we stand on the top of the mountain, free within ourselves." – Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Image: The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume I: 1902-1941, I, Too, Sing America


[1] See: http://www.redhotjazz.com/hughes.html and http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/83

[2] See: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_19/184-0442647-7633647?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=life+of+langston+hughes&sprefix=life+of+langston+hu%2Cstripbooks%2C335 or at Powells Books: http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780195054262-8