Please provide a background for Langston Hughes.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

James Mercer Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, and died on May 22, 1967. He was of "African American, European American and Native American descent."

As well as an African-American poet who...

...influence[d]...three generations of African American writers...

…he was also a "novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist." Overall, he "is best-known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance."

His early life was influenced a great deal by his maternal grandmother, and then his mother, who struggled to support her children when her husband left them. After high school, Hughes spent time with his father in Mexico, and had several pieces accepted for publication. His first book was published before he attended college, and was generally well-received by the white community.

Hughes graduated from Lincoln University, in Pennsylvania, in 1929. A fellow-classmate, Thurgood Marshall, would one day be Supreme Court Justice. Hughes' first novel was published a year later. While his father wanted him to be an engineer, Hughes decided he wanted to be a writer; he visited several black colleges in the South to present his writings to the public.

...the exposure helped to establish him as the major poetic voice of black America.

Hughes wrote some plays that were performed by African-American theatrical groups he established in Harlem and Chicago. His writing would meet resistance from whites and black, and over the years, his work drew attention, but slowly. Hughes' poetry was musical. He brought the…

...rhythm of jazz, the vernacular of his people, and the social concerns of the day to his verse.

Hughes is now considered an inspiring African-American author who influenced several generations of readers and writers through his novels, plays, poetry and short stories.

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