Langston Hughes’s Harlem
His parents divorced when he was a small child, and his father moved to Mexico. He was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen, when he moved to Lincoln, Illinois, to live with his mother and her husband, before the family eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio. Hughes had a very poor relationship with his father. He lived with his father in Mexico for a brief period in 1919. Upon graduating from high school in June 1920, Hughes returned to Mexico to live with his father, hoping to convince him to support Langston’s plan to attend Columbia University.
Hughes later said that, prior to arriving in Mexico: “l had been hinking about my father and his strange dislike of his own people. I didn’t understand it, because I was a Negro, and I liked Negroes very much. Initially, his father had hoped for Hughes to attend a university abroad, and to study for a career in engineering. On these grounds, he was willing to provide financial assistance to his son but did not support his desire to be a writer. Eventually, Hughes and his father came to a compromise: Hughes would study engineering, so long as he could attend Columbia.
His tuition provided; Hughes left his father after more than a year. While at Columbia in 1921, Hughes managed to maintain a 8+ grade average. He left in 1922 because of racial prejudice, and his interests revolved more around the neighborhood of Harlem than his studies, though he continued writing poetry. In Lincoln, Illinois, Hughes had begun writing poetry. Following graduation, he spent a year in Mexico and a year at Columbia University. During these years, he held odd lobs as an assistant cook, launderer, and a busboy, and travelled to Africa and Europe working as a seaman.
In November 1924, he moved to Washington, D. C. Hughes’s first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. In 1930 his first novel, Not without Laughter, won the Harmon gold medal for literature. Hughes, who claimed Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties.
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 iven landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission, and East 127th Street nas been renamed “Langston Hughes Place. ” First published in The Crisis in 1921, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” became Hughes’s signature poem which was collected in his first book of poetry The Weary Blues in 1926. Hughes’s first and last published poems appeared in The Crisis; more of his poems were published in The Crisis than in any other Journal.
Hughes’s life and work were enormously influential during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, alongside those of his contemporaries, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Richard Bruce Nugent, and Aaron Douglas. Except for McKay, they worked together also to create the short-lived magazine Fire, devoted to younger Negro artists. Hughes and his contemporaries had different goals and aspirations than the black middle class. They criticized the men known as the midwives of the Harlem Renaissance: W. E. B.
Du Bois, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Alain LeRoy Locke, as being overly accommodating and assimilating Eurocentric values and culture to achieve social equality. Langston Hughes is famous for his poems during the Harlem Renaissance. In his poems he incorporated the real lives of blacks n the lower social-economic strata. He criticized the divisions and prejudices based on skin color within the black community. Hughes wrote what would be considered their manifesto, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” published in The Nation in 1926.
Hughes identified as unashamedly black at a time when blackness was d©mod©. He stressed the theme of “black is beautiful” as he explored the black human condition in a variety of depths. His main concern was the uplift of his people, whose strengths, resiliency, courage, and humor he wanted to record as part of the general American experience. His poetry and fiction portrayed the lives of the working-class blacks in America, lives he portrayed as full of struggle, Joy, laughter, and music.
Permeating his work is pride in the African-American identity and its diverse culture. “My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America and obliquely that of all human kind,” Hughes is quoted as saying. He confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and expanded African America’s image of itself; a “people’s poet” who sought to reeducate both audience and artist by lifting the theory of the black aesthetic into reality. Langston Hughes has many famous poems; Mother to Son, 50:50, but my favorite is Harlem (A Dream Deferred). Harlem” is a lyric poem with irregular rhyme and an irregular metrical pattern that sums up the white oppression of blacks in America. It first appeared in 1951 in a collection of Hughes’s poetry, Montage ofa Dream Deferred. In 1951 ”the year of the poem’s publication”frustration characterized the mood of American blacks. The Civil War in the previous century had liberated them from slavery, and federal laws had granted them the right to vote, the right to own property, and so on. However, continuing prejudice against blacks, as well as laws passed since the Civil War, relegated them to second-class citizenship.
Consequently, blacks had to attend poorly equipped segregated schools and settle for menial Jobs as porters, ditch-diggers, servants, shoeshine boys, and so on. In many states, blacks could not use the same public facilities as whites, including restrooms, restaurants, theaters, and parks. Access to other facilities, such as buses, required them to take a back seat, literally, to whites. By the mid-Twentieth Century, their frustration with nferior status became a powder keg, and the fuse was burning.
Hughes well underst what the tuture held, as ne indicates in the last line ot the poem. Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” is about what happens to dreams when they are put on hold. Hughes probably intended for the poem to focus on the dreams of African-Americans in particular because he originally entitled the poem “Harlem,” which is the capital of African American life in the United States; however, it is Just as easy to read the poem as being about dreams in general and what happens when people postpone making them come true.
Ultimately, Hughes uses a carefully arranged series of images that also function as figures of speech to suggest that people should not delay their dreams because the more they postpone them, the more the dreams will change and the less likely they will come true. Harlem (A Dream Deferred) is my favorite Langston Hughes’s poems because he is talking about how problems are in the world we are living in. He knows that African Americans have their freedom and rights now but, they are still issue with unfair treatment. Hughes dreams that his race keeps battling through adversity and hopes that things will get better.
I think what makes Langston Hughes poems so popular is his interaction to his audience. Hughes relates and involves real world events in his poems. Langston Hughes was one of the most important writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance, which was the African American artistic movement in the 1920s that celebrated black life and culture. Hughes’s creative genius was influenced by his life in New York City’s Harlem, a primarily African American neighborhood. His literary works helped shape American literature and politics. Hughes, like others active in the Harlem Renaissance, had a strong sense of racial pride