Langston Hughes was one of the leaders of what was known as the Harlem Rennaissance, a period of time that spanned the 1920s and was characterized as a resurgent interest in the cultural and artistic contributions of the African-American community. As Southern blacks migrated north, many settled in Harlem. As the African-American community sought to overcome the continued racism endemic in the United States, even in the North, it also began to develop and expand upon its own forms of artistic expression, much of which appealed to whites as well. The early development of the jazz movement, for example, found favor not just among African-Americans, but among whites, who traveled to Harlem to hear prominent African-American performers.
Hughes' poetry, novels, and essays, as well as his overall demeanor, exemplified black pride. His writings were a manifestation of the difficult, protracted struggle blacks endured on the way to greater acceptance as citizens of the United States. Hughes was a vocal proponent of black expressionism without self-consciousness. As with the Harlem Rennaissance in general, Hughes' influence was felt among blacks in foreign countries, particularly in French-speaking black communities in cities like Paris. He was one of a group of such individuals who influenced arts and letters in the United States for decades to come.