James Mercer Langston Hughes
Uploaded by ymcacas on Apr 18, 2007
Langston Hughes was a very gentle man who spent much of his life at the center of controversy. He was very faithful to his art--the true expression of the lives, hopes, fears, and angers of ordinary black people--without sugar coating it. Arnold Rampersad shows Hughes dedication to writing his thoughts and views has been repaid with extraordinary and continuing popularity, as well as critical acceptance.
James Mercer Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, on February 1, 1902, to James Nathaniel Hughes, a lawyer and businessman, and his mother Carrie Mercer Hughes, a teacher. The couple separated shortly after his birth. James Hughes was, by his son's account, a cold man who hated blacks and hated himself for being one. He felt that most of them deserve their ill fortune because of what he considers their ignorance and laziness. Langston Hughes' youthful visits to his father were tense and painful. When James Nathaniel Hughes died, he left everything to three elderly women who cared for him in his last days, and Langston was not even in his will. Hughes mother went through many separations and reconciliation’s in her second marriage. Langston Hughes was brought up by Carrie, his maternal grandmother, and family friends.
Langston Hughes was a very busy young man. At the age of fourteen, he had already lived in Joplin, Buffalo, Cleveland, Lawrence, Mexico City, Topeka, Colorado Springs, Kansas City, and Illinois. In 1915, he was the class poet in grammar school. From 1916 to 1920, he attends Central High School in Cleveland; where he was a star athlete, a writer of poetry, and short stories. On his own, he also read such modern poets as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Edgar Lee Masters, Vachel Lindsay, and Carl Sandburg. His classmates were the children of European immigrants, who treated him largely without discrimination and introduced him to the leftist political ideas (Rampersad). After his high school graduation in 1920, he went to Mexico to teach English for a year. While on the train to Mexico, he wrote the poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers", which was available in the June 1921 issue of The Crisis, a leading black publication. Hughes went to Columbia University from 1921 to 1922. After his academic year at Columbia he lived for a year in Harlem, and embarks on a six-month voyage as a cabin boy on a merchant freighter heading for West Africa. After its...