illustrated portrait of American poet and author Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

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What would be a great introduction to Langston Hughes as a writer and revolutionist?

An introduction to Langston Hughes as an influencer of American culture should include some of the historical context reflected in his work as well as information regarding how his work became an integral part of American society.

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It sounds like you are constructing a paper that explains how Langston Hughes's work changed his society and its views. With that topic, here are some things that might be helpful to include in an introduction:

  • Hughes wrote during the Harlem Renaissance, which produced a great upswing for African American artists.
  • The language and meter Hughes employed in his poetry often reflected the African American voices around him and echoed the jazz music African Americans produced.
  • Hughes's poetry reflects both the conflict he faces and the pride he feels because of his race. See "I, Too" and "Mother to Son" for examples of this.
  • Hughes also used his work to narrate the conflict he faced from white America. See "Theme for English B" and "Let America Be America Again" for examples of this.
  • The work of Hughes was so powerful that Martin Luther King, Jr. reportedly lifted the idea for his "I Have a Dream" speech from Hughes's poem "A Dream Deferred."
  • A Raisin in the Sun, a play about the struggles of an African American family living on the south side of Chicago, also lifted its title from Hughes's "A Dream Deferred."

Of course, all of these details are expansive and too much to include in any one introduction, so you'll need to determine how you will explain Hughes's influence in the body of your paper and then craft your introduction toward that goal. I would end the introduction with a clear thesis, which might look something like this:

The work of Langston Hughes reflects both the pride and struggles innate in being African American within his society, and his poignant voice has resonated with American audiences for nearly one hundred years, forever influencing American culture.

I hope that helps you get started. Good luck!

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