LANGSTON HUGHES | JAMES MERCER - WIKIPEDIA ENCYCLOPEDIA

Born     James Mercer Langston Hughes
February 1, 1902
Joplin, Missouri, United States
Died     May 22, 1967 (aged 65)
New York City, United States
Occupation     Poet, columnist, dramatist, essayist, novelist
Ethnicity     African American, White American, Native American
Period     1926–64




James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist.

He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "the negro was in vogue", which was later paraphrased as "when Harlem was in vogue".[1]

Contents

    1 Biography
        1.1 Ancestry and childhood
        1.2 Relationship with father
        1.3 Adulthood
        1.4 Death
    2 Career
    3 Political views
    4 Representation in other media
    5 Literary archives
    6 Honors and awards
    7 Bibliography
        7.1 Poetry collections
        7.2 Novels and short story collections
        7.3 Non-fiction books
        7.4 Major plays
        7.5 Books for children
    8 Other writings
    9 See also
    10 Notes
    11 References
    12 External links
        12.1 Profiles
        12.2 Archive and works

Biography
Ancestry and childhood

Both of Hughes' paternal great-grandmothers were African-American and both of his paternal great-grandfathers were white slave owners of Kentucky. According to Hughes, one of these men was Sam Clay, a Scottish-American whiskey distiller of Henry County and supposedly a relative of Henry Clay, and the other was Silas Cushenberry a Jewish-American slave trader of Clark County.[2][3] Hughes's maternal grandmother Mary Patterson was of African-American, French, English and Native American descent. One of the first women to attend Oberlin College, she first married Lewis Sheridan Leary, also of mixed race. Lewis Sheridan Leary subsequently joined John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 and died from his wounds.[3]

In 1869 the widow Mary Patterson Leary married again, into the elite, politically active Langston family. Her second husband was Charles Henry Langston, of African-American, Native American, and Euro-American ancestry.[4][5] He and his younger brother John Mercer Langston worked for the abolitionist cause and helped lead the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society [6] in 1858. Charles Langston later moved to Kansas, where he was active as an educator and activist for voting and rights for African Americans.[4] Charles and Mary's daughter Caroline was the mother of Langston Hughes.[7]
Hughes in 1902

Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, the second child of school teacher Carrie (Caroline) Mercer Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes (1871–1934).[8] Langston Hughes grew up in a series of Midwestern small towns. Hughes's father left his family and later divorced Carrie, going to Cuba, and then Mexico, seeking to escape the enduring racism in the United States.[9]

After the separation of his parents, while his mother traveled seeking employment, young Langston Hughes was raised mainly by his maternal grandmother, Mary Patterson Langston, in Lawrence, Kansas. Through the black American oral tradition and drawing from the activist experiences of her generation, Mary Langston instilled in her grandson a lasting sense of racial pride.[10][11][12] He spent most of his childhood in Lawrence, Kansas. After the death of his grandmother, he went to live with family friends, James and Mary Reed, for two years. In his 1940 autobiography The Big Sea he wrote: "I was unhappy for a long time, and very lonesome, living with my grandmother. Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books — where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas."[13]

Later, Hughes lived again with his mother Carrie in Lincoln, Illinois. She had remarried when he was still an adolescent, and eventually they lived in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended high school.

While in grammar school in Lincoln, Hughes was elected class poet. Hughes stated that in retrospect he thought it was because of the stereotype that African Americans have rhythm.[14]

    I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everyone knows, except us, that all Negroes have rhythm, so they elected me as class poet.[15]

During high school in Cleveland, he wrote for the school newspaper, edited the yearbook, and began to write his first short stories, poetry, and dramatic plays. His first piece of jazz poetry, "When Sue Wears Red", was written while he was in high school.
Relationship with father

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: "I had been thinking 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."[16][17] 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 B+ 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.[18]
Adulthood

Hughes worked various odd jobs, before serving a brief tenure as a crewman aboard the S.S. Malone in 1923, spending six months traveling to West Africa and Europe.[19] In Europe, Hughes left the S.S. Malone for a temporary stay in Paris.

During his time in England in the early 1920s, Hughes became part of the black expatriate community. In November 1924, he returned to the U.S. to live with his mother in Washington, D.C. Hughes worked at various odd jobs before gaining a white-collar job in 1925 as a personal assistant to the historian Carter G. Woodson at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. As the work demands limited his time for writing, Hughes quit the position to work as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel. There he encountered the poet Vachel Lindsay, with whom he shared some poems. Impressed with the poems, Lindsay publicized his discovery of a new black poet. By this time, Hughes's earlier work had been published in magazines and was about to be collected into his first book of poetry.
Hughes at university in 1928

The following year, Hughes enrolled in Lincoln University, a historically black university in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He joined the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.[20][21] Thurgood Marshall, who later became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was an alumnus and classmate of Langston Hughes during his undergraduate studies at Lincoln University.

After Hughes earned a B.A. degree from Lincoln University in 1929, he returned to New York. Except for travels to the Soviet Union and parts of the Caribbean, Hughes lived in Harlem as his primary home for the remainder of his life. During the 1930s, Hughes became a resident of Westfield, New Jersey.[22][23]

Some academics and biographers today believe that Hughes was homosexual and included homosexual codes in many of his poems, similar in manner to Walt Whitman. Hughes has cited him as an influence on his poetry. Hughes's story "Blessed Assurance" deals with a father's anger over his son's effeminacy and "queerness".[24][24][25][26][27][28][29][30] The biographer Aldrich argues that, in order to retain the respect and support of black churches and organizations and avoid exacerbating his precarious financial situation, Hughes remained closeted.[31]
Hughes's ashes are interred under a cosmogram medallion in the foyer of the Arthur Schomburg Center in Harlem

Arnold Rampersad, the primary biographer of Hughes, determined that Hughes exhibited a preference for other African-American men in his work and life.[32] However, Rampersad denies Hughes's homosexuality in his biography.[33] Rampersad concludes that Hughes was probably asexual and passive in his sexual relationships. He did, however show a respect and love for his fellow black man (and woman). Other scholars argue for Hughes's homosexuality: his love of black men is evidenced in a number of reported unpublished poems to an alleged black male lover.[34]
Death

On May 22, 1967, Hughes died from complications after abdominal surgery, related to prostate cancer, at the age of 65. His ashes are interred beneath a floor medallion in the middle of the foyer in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. It is the entrance to an auditorium named for him.[35] The design on the floor is an African cosmogram entitled Rivers. The title is taken from his poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers". Within the center of the cosmogram is the line: "My soul has grown deep like the rivers".
Career

from "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (1920)
...
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
        went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
        bosom turn all golden in the sunset....


in The Weary Blues (1926)[36]

First published in The Crisis in 1921, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers", which became Hughes's signature poem, was collected in his first book of poetry The Weary Blues (1926).[37] 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.[38] 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.

Hughes and his fellows tried to depict the "low-life" in their art, that is, the real lives of blacks in the lower social-economic strata. They criticized the divisions and prejudices based on skin color within the black community.[39] Hughes wrote what would be considered their manifesto, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain", published in The Nation in 1926:

    "The younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too. The tom-tom cries, and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain free within ourselves."[40]

Hughes identified as unashamedly black at a time when blackness was démodé. He stressed the theme of "black is beautiful" as he explored the black human condition in a variety of depths.[41] 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.[17][42]

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,"[43] 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.[44]

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.


"My People" in The Crisis (October 1923)[45]

Hughes stressed a racial consciousness and cultural nationalism devoid of self-hate. His thought united people of African descent and Africa across the globe to encourage pride in their diverse black folk culture and black aesthetic. Hughes was one of the few prominent black writers to champion racial consciousness as a source of inspiration for black artists.[46] His African-American race consciousness and cultural nationalism would influence many foreign black writers, such as Jacques Roumain, Nicolás Guillén, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Aimé Césaire. Along with the works of Senghor, Césaire, and other French-speaking writers of Africa and of African descent from the Caribbean, such as René Maran from Martinique and Léon Damas from French Guiana in South America, the works of Hughes helped to inspire the Négritude movement in France. A radical black self-examination was emphasized in the face of European colonialism.[47][48] In addition to his example in social attitudes, Hughes had an important technical influence by his emphasis on folk and jazz rhythms as the basis of his poetry of racial pride.[49]

In 1930, his first novel, Not Without Laughter, won the Harmon Gold Medal for literature. At a time before widespread arts grants, Hughes gained the support of private patrons and he was supported for two years prior to publishing this novel.[50] The protagonist of the story is a boy named Sandy, whose family must deal with a variety of struggles due to their race and class, in addition to relating to one another.

In 1931, Hughes helped form the "New York Suitcase Theater" with playwright Paul Peters, artist Jacob Burck, and writer (soon-to-be underground spy) Whittaker Chambers, an acquaintance from Columbia.[51] In 1932, he was part of a board to produce a Soviet film on "Negro Life" with Malcolm Cowley, Floyd Dell, and Chambers.[51]

In 1932, Hughes and Ellen Winter wrote a pageant to Caroline Decker in an attempt to celebrate her work with the striking coal miners of the Harlan County War, but it was never performed. It was judged to be a "long, artificial propaganda vehicle too complicated and too cumbersome to be performed."[52]

Maxim Lieber became his literary agent, 1933–45 and 1949-50. (Chambers and Lieber worked in the underground together around 1934–35.[53])
Hughes' first short story collection

Hughes' first collection of short stories was published in 1934 with The Ways of White Folks. He finished the book at a Carmel, California cottage provided for a year by Noel Sullivan, another patron.[54][55] These stories are a series of vignettes revealing the humorous and tragic interactions between whites and blacks. Overall, they are marked by a general pessimism about race relations, as well as a sardonic realism.[56]

In 1935 Hughes received a Guggenheim Fellowship. The same year that Hughes established his theater troupe in Los Angeles, he realized an ambition related to films by co-writing the screenplay for Way Down South.[57] Hughes believed his failure to gain more work in the lucrative movie trade was due to racial discrimination within the industry.

In Chicago, Hughes founded The Skyloft Players in 1941, which sought to nurture black playwrights and offer theater "from the black perspective."[58] Soon thereafter, he was hired to write a column for the Chicago Defender, in which he presented some of his "most powerful and relevant work", giving voice to black people. The column ran for twenty years. In 1943, Hughes began publishing stories about a character he called Jesse B. Semple, often referred to and spelled "Simple", the everyday black man in Harlem who offered musings on topical issues of the day.[58] Although Hughes seldom responded to requests to teach at colleges, in 1947 he taught at Atlanta University. In 1949, he spent three months at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools as a visiting lecturer. Between 1942 and 1949 Hughes was a frequent writer and served on the editorial board of Common Ground, a literary magazine focused on cultural pluralism in the United States published by the Common Council for American Unity (CCAU).

He wrote novels, short stories, plays, poetry, operas, essays, and works for children. With the encouragement of his best friend and writer, Arna Bontemps, and patron and friend, Carl Van Vechten, he wrote two volumes of autobiography, The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wander, as well as translating several works of literature into English.
Langston Hughes, 1943. Photo by Gordon Parks

During the mid-1950s and -1960s, Hughes' popularity among the younger generation of black writers varied even as his reputation increased worldwide. With the gradual advancement toward racial integration, many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date. They considered him a racial chauvinist.[59] He found some new writers, including James Baldwin, lacking in such pride, overintellectual in their work, and occasionally vulgar.[60][61][62]

Hughes wanted young black writers to be objective about their race, but not to scorn it or flee it.[46] He understood the main points of the Black Power movement of the 1960s, but believed that some of the younger black writers who supported it were too angry in their work. Hughes's work Panther and the Lash, posthumously published in 1967, was intended to show solidarity with these writers, but with more skill and devoid of the most virulent anger and racial chauvinism some showed toward whites.[63][64] Hughes continued to have admirers among the larger younger generation of black writers. He often helped writers by offering advice and introducing them to other influential persons in the literature and publishing communities. This latter group, including Alice Walker, whom Hughes discovered, looked upon Hughes as a hero and an example to be emulated within their own work. One of these young black writers (Loften Mitchell) observed of Hughes:

    "Langston set a tone, a standard of brotherhood and friendship and cooperation, for all of us to follow. You never got from him, 'I am the Negro writer,' but only 'I am a Negro writer.' He never stopped thinking about the rest of us."[65]

Political views

Hughes, like many black writers and artists of his time, was drawn to the promise of Communism as an alternative to a segregated America. Many of his lesser-known political writings have been collected in two volumes published by the University of Missouri Press and reflect his attraction to Communism. An example is the poem "A New Song".[66]

In 1932, Hughes became part of a group of black people who went to the Soviet Union to make a film depicting the plight of African Americans in the United States. The film was never made, but Hughes was given the opportunity to travel extensively through the Soviet Union and to the Soviet-controlled regions in Central Asia, the latter parts usually closed to Westerners. While there, he met Robert Robinson, an African American living in Moscow and unable to leave. In Turkmenistan, Hughes met and befriended the Hungarian author Arthur Koestler, then a Communist who was given permission to travel there.

As later noted in Koestler's autobiography, Hughes, together with some forty other Black Americans, had originally been invited to the Soviet Union to produce a Soviet film on "Negro Life",[67] but the Soviets dropped the film idea because of their 1933 success in getting the US to recognize the Soviet Union and establish an embassy in Moscow. This entailed a toning down of Soviet propaganda on racial segregation in America. Hughes and his fellow Blacks were not informed of the reasons for the cancelling, but he and Koestler worked it out for themselves.[68]

Hughes also managed to travel to China and Japan before returning to the States.

Hughes's poetry was frequently published in the CPUSA newspaper and he was involved in initiatives supported by Communist organizations, such as the drive to free the Scottsboro Boys. Partly as a show of support for the Republican faction during the Spanish Civil War, in 1937 Hughes traveled to Spain[69] as a correspondent for the Baltimore Afro-American and other various African-American newspapers. Hughes was also involved in other Communist-led organizations such as the John Reed Clubs and the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. He was more of a sympathizer than an active participant. He signed a 1938 statement supporting Joseph Stalin's purges and joined the American Peace Mobilization in 1940 working to keep the U.S. from participating in World War II.[70]

Hughes initially did not favor black American involvement in the war because of the persistence of discriminatory U.S. Jim Crow laws and racial segregation and disfranchisement throughout the South. He came to support the war effort and black American participation after deciding that war service would aid their struggle for civil rights at home.[71] The scholar Anthony Pinn has noted that Hughes, together with Lorraine Hansberry and Richard Wright, was a humanist "critical of belief in God. They provided a foundation for nontheistic participation in social struggle." Pinn has found that such writers are sometimes ignored in the narrative of American history that chiefly credits the civil rights movement to the work of affiliated Christian people.[72]

Hughes was accused of being a Communist by many on the political right, but he always denied it. When asked why he never joined the Communist Party, he wrote, "it was based on strict discipline and the acceptance of directives that I, as a writer, did not wish to accept." In 1953, he was called before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations led by Senator Joseph McCarthy. He stated, "I never read the theoretical books of socialism or communism or the Democratic or Republican parties for that matter, and so my interest in whatever may be considered political has been non-theoretical, non-sectarian, and largely emotional and born out of my own need to find some way of thinking about this whole problem of myself."[73] Following his testimony, Hughes distanced himself from Communism.[74] He was rebuked by some on the Radical Left who had previously supported him. He moved away from overtly political poems and towards more lyric subjects. When selecting his poetry for his Selected Poems (1959) he excluded all his radical Socialist verse from the 1930s.[74]
Representation in other media
The poem "Danse Africaine" as wallpoem in Leiden

Hughes was featured reciting his poetry on the album Weary Blues (MGM, 1959) with music by Charles Mingus and Leonard Feather and also contributed lyrics to Randy Weston's Uhuru Afrika (Roulette, 1960).

Hughes' life has been portrayed in film and stage productions since the late twentieth century. In Looking for Langston (1989), British filmmaker Isaac Julien claimed him as a black gay icon — Julien thought that Hughes' sexuality had historically been ignored or downplayed. Film portrayals of Hughes include Gary LeRoi Gray's role as a teenage Hughes in the short subject film Salvation (2003) (based on a portion of his autobiography The Big Sea), and Daniel Sunjata as Hughes in the Brother to Brother (2004). Hughes' Dream Harlem, a documentary by Jamal Joseph, examines Hughes' works and environment.

Paper Armor (1999) by Eisa Davis and Hannibal of the Alps (2005) by Michael Dinwiddie are plays by African-American playwrights that address Hughes's sexuality. Spike Lee's 1996 film Get on the Bus, included a black gay character, played by Isaiah Washington, who invokes the name of Hughes and punches a homophobic character, saying, "This is for James Baldwin and Langston Hughes."

Hughes was also featured prominently in a national campaign sponsored by the Center for Inquiry (CFI) known as African Americans for Humanism.[75]
Literary archives

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University holds the Langston Hughes papers (1862–1980) and the Langston Hughes collection (1924–1969) containing letters, manuscripts, personal items, photographs, clippings, artworks, and objects that document the life of Hughes. The Langston Hughes Memorial Library on the campus of Lincoln University, as well as at the James Weldon Johnson Collection within the Yale University also hold archives of Hughes' work.[76]
Honors and awards

    1926: Hughes won the Witter Bynner Undergraduate Poetry Prize.
    1935: Hughes was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed him to travel to Spain and Russia.
    1941: Hughes was awarded a fellowship from the Rosenwald Fund.
    1943: Lincoln University awarded Hughes an honorary Litt.D.
    1954: Hughes won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.
    1960: the NAACP awarded Hughes the Spingarn Medal for distinguished achievements by an African American.
    1961: National Institute of Arts and Letters.[77]
    1963: Howard University awarded Hughes an honorary doctorate.
    1964: Western Reserve University awarded Hughes an honorary Litt.D.
    1973: the first Langston Hughes Medal was awarded by the City College of New York.
    1979: Langston Hughes Middle School was created in Reston, Virginia.
    1981: New York City Landmark status was given to the Harlem home of Langston Hughes at 20 East 127th Street (40°48′26.32″N 73°56′25.54″W) by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and 127th Street was renamed Langston Hughes Place.[78] The Langston Hughes House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[79]
    2002: The United States Postal Service added the image of Langston Hughes to its Black Heritage series of postage stamps.
    2002: scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Langston Hughes on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[80]
    2015: Google Doodle commemorated his 113th birthday.[81]

Bibliography
Library resources about
Langston Hughes

    Resources in your library
    Resources in other libraries

By Langston Hughes

    Resources in your library
    Resources in other libraries

Poetry collections

    The Weary Blues, Knopf, 1926
    Fine Clothes to the Jew, Knopf, 1927
    The Negro Mother and Other Dramatic Recitations, 1931
    Dear Lovely Death, 1931
    The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, Knopf, 1932
    Scottsboro Limited: Four Poems and a Play, Golden Stair Press, N.Y., 1932
    Let America Be America Again, 1938
    Shakespeare in Harlem, Knopf, 1942
    Freedom's Plow, 1943
    Fields of Wonder, Knopf, 1947
    One-Way Ticket, 1949
    Montage of a Dream Deferred, Holt, 1951
    Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, 1958
    Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, Hill & Wang, 1961
    The Panther and the Lash: Poems of Our Times, 1967
    The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Knopf, 1994

Novels and short story collections

    Not Without Laughter. Knopf, 1930
    The Ways of White Folks. Knopf, 1934
    Simple Speaks His Mind. 1950
    Laughing to Keep from Crying, Holt, 1952
    Simple Takes a Wife. 1953
    Sweet Flypaper of Life, photographs by Roy DeCarava. 1955
    Simple Stakes a Claim. 1957
    Tambourines to Glory 1958
    The Best of Simple. 1961
    Simple's Uncle Sam. 1965
    Something in Common and Other Stories. Hill & Wang, 1963
    Short Stories of Langston Hughes. Hill & Wang, 1996

Non-fiction books

    The Big Sea. New York: Knopf, 1940
    Famous American Negroes. 1954
    Famous Negro Music Makers, published by Dodd, Mead, New York 1955
    I Wonder as I Wander. New York: Rinehart & Co., 1956
    A Pictorial History of the Negro in America, with Milton Meltzer. 1956
    Famous Negro Heroes of America. 1958
    Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP. 1962

Major plays

    Mule Bone, with Zora Neale Hurston. 1931
    Mulatto. 1935 (renamed The Barrier, an opera, in 1950)
    Troubled Island, with William Grant Still. 1936
    Little Ham. 1936
    Emperor of Haiti. 1936
    Don't You Want to be Free? 1938
    Street Scene, contributed lyrics. 1947
    Tambourines to Glory. 1956
    Simply Heavenly. 1957
    Black Nativity. 1961
    Five Plays by Langston Hughes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1963.
    Jerico-Jim Crow. 1964

Books for children

    Popo and Fifina, with Arna Bontemps. 1932
    The First Book of the Negroes. 1952
    The First Book of Jazz. 1954
    Marian Anderson: Famous Concert Singer, with Steven C. Tracy. 1954
    The First Book of Rhythms. 1954
    The First Book of the West Indies. 1956
    First Book of Africa. 1964
    Black Misery. Illustrated by Arouni. 1969; reprinted 1994, Oxford University Press.

Other writings

    The Langston Hughes Reader. New York: Braziller, 1958.
    Good Morning Revolution: Uncollected Social Protest Writings by Langston Hughes. Lawrence Hill, 1973.
    The Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2001.
    "My Adventures as a Social Poet" (essay), Phylon, 3rd Quarter 1947.
    "The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain" (article), The Nation, June 23, 1926.


Langston Hughes
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Langston Hughes (disambiguation).
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Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes by Carl Van Vechten 1936.jpg
1936 photo by Carl Van Vechten
Born     James Mercer Langston Hughes
February 1, 1902
Joplin, Missouri, United States
Died     May 22, 1967 (aged 65)
New York City, United States
Occupation     Poet, columnist, dramatist, essayist, novelist
Ethnicity     African American, White American, Native American
Period     1926–64

James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist.

He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "the negro was in vogue", which was later paraphrased as "when Harlem was in vogue".[1]

Contents

    1 Biography
        1.1 Ancestry and childhood
        1.2 Relationship with father
        1.3 Adulthood
        1.4 Death
    2 Career
    3 Political views
    4 Representation in other media
    5 Literary archives
    6 Honors and awards
    7 Bibliography
        7.1 Poetry collections
        7.2 Novels and short story collections
        7.3 Non-fiction books
        7.4 Major plays
        7.5 Books for children
    8 Other writings
    9 See also
    10 Notes
    11 References
    12 External links
        12.1 Profiles
        12.2 Archive and works

Biography
Ancestry and childhood

Both of Hughes' paternal great-grandmothers were African-American and both of his paternal great-grandfathers were white slave owners of Kentucky. According to Hughes, one of these men was Sam Clay, a Scottish-American whiskey distiller of Henry County and supposedly a relative of Henry Clay, and the other was Silas Cushenberry a Jewish-American slave trader of Clark County.[2][3] Hughes's maternal grandmother Mary Patterson was of African-American, French, English and Native American descent. One of the first women to attend Oberlin College, she first married Lewis Sheridan Leary, also of mixed race. Lewis Sheridan Leary subsequently joined John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 and died from his wounds.[3]

In 1869 the widow Mary Patterson Leary married again, into the elite, politically active Langston family. Her second husband was Charles Henry Langston, of African-American, Native American, and Euro-American ancestry.[4][5] He and his younger brother John Mercer Langston worked for the abolitionist cause and helped lead the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society [6] in 1858. Charles Langston later moved to Kansas, where he was active as an educator and activist for voting and rights for African Americans.[4] Charles and Mary's daughter Caroline was the mother of Langston Hughes.[7]
Hughes in 1902

Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, the second child of school teacher Carrie (Caroline) Mercer Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes (1871–1934).[8] Langston Hughes grew up in a series of Midwestern small towns. Hughes's father left his family and later divorced Carrie, going to Cuba, and then Mexico, seeking to escape the enduring racism in the United States.[9]

After the separation of his parents, while his mother traveled seeking employment, young Langston Hughes was raised mainly by his maternal grandmother, Mary Patterson Langston, in Lawrence, Kansas. Through the black American oral tradition and drawing from the activist experiences of her generation, Mary Langston instilled in her grandson a lasting sense of racial pride.[10][11][12] He spent most of his childhood in Lawrence, Kansas. After the death of his grandmother, he went to live with family friends, James and Mary Reed, for two years. In his 1940 autobiography The Big Sea he wrote: "I was unhappy for a long time, and very lonesome, living with my grandmother. Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books — where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas."[13]

Later, Hughes lived again with his mother Carrie in Lincoln, Illinois. She had remarried when he was still an adolescent, and eventually they lived in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended high school.

While in grammar school in Lincoln, Hughes was elected class poet. Hughes stated that in retrospect he thought it was because of the stereotype that African Americans have rhythm.[14]

    I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everyone knows, except us, that all Negroes have rhythm, so they elected me as class poet.[15]

During high school in Cleveland, he wrote for the school newspaper, edited the yearbook, and began to write his first short stories, poetry, and dramatic plays. His first piece of jazz poetry, "When Sue Wears Red", was written while he was in high school.
Relationship with father

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: "I had been thinking 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."[16][17] 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 B+ 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.[18]
Adulthood

Hughes worked various odd jobs, before serving a brief tenure as a crewman aboard the S.S. Malone in 1923, spending six months traveling to West Africa and Europe.[19] In Europe, Hughes left the S.S. Malone for a temporary stay in Paris.

During his time in England in the early 1920s, Hughes became part of the black expatriate community. In November 1924, he returned to the U.S. to live with his mother in Washington, D.C. Hughes worked at various odd jobs before gaining a white-collar job in 1925 as a personal assistant to the historian Carter G. Woodson at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. As the work demands limited his time for writing, Hughes quit the position to work as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel. There he encountered the poet Vachel Lindsay, with whom he shared some poems. Impressed with the poems, Lindsay publicized his discovery of a new black poet. By this time, Hughes's earlier work had been published in magazines and was about to be collected into his first book of poetry.
Hughes at university in 1928

The following year, Hughes enrolled in Lincoln University, a historically black university in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He joined the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.[20][21] Thurgood Marshall, who later became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was an alumnus and classmate of Langston Hughes during his undergraduate studies at Lincoln University.

After Hughes earned a B.A. degree from Lincoln University in 1929, he returned to New York. Except for travels to the Soviet Union and parts of the Caribbean, Hughes lived in Harlem as his primary home for the remainder of his life. During the 1930s, Hughes became a resident of Westfield, New Jersey.[22][23]

Some academics and biographers today believe that Hughes was homosexual and included homosexual codes in many of his poems, similar in manner to Walt Whitman. Hughes has cited him as an influence on his poetry. Hughes's story "Blessed Assurance" deals with a father's anger over his son's effeminacy and "queerness".[24][24][25][26][27][28][29][30] The biographer Aldrich argues that, in order to retain the respect and support of black churches and organizations and avoid exacerbating his precarious financial situation, Hughes remained closeted.[31]
Hughes's ashes are interred under a cosmogram medallion in the foyer of the Arthur Schomburg Center in Harlem

Arnold Rampersad, the primary biographer of Hughes, determined that Hughes exhibited a preference for other African-American men in his work and life.[32] However, Rampersad denies Hughes's homosexuality in his biography.[33] Rampersad concludes that Hughes was probably asexual and passive in his sexual relationships. He did, however show a respect and love for his fellow black man (and woman). Other scholars argue for Hughes's homosexuality: his love of black men is evidenced in a number of reported unpublished poems to an alleged black male lover.[34]
Death

On May 22, 1967, Hughes died from complications after abdominal surgery, related to prostate cancer, at the age of 65. His ashes are interred beneath a floor medallion in the middle of the foyer in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. It is the entrance to an auditorium named for him.[35] The design on the floor is an African cosmogram entitled Rivers. The title is taken from his poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers". Within the center of the cosmogram is the line: "My soul has grown deep like the rivers".
Career

from "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (1920)
...
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
        went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
        bosom turn all golden in the sunset....


in The Weary Blues (1926)[36]

First published in The Crisis in 1921, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers", which became Hughes's signature poem, was collected in his first book of poetry The Weary Blues (1926).[37] 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.[38] 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.

Hughes and his fellows tried to depict the "low-life" in their art, that is, the real lives of blacks in the lower social-economic strata. They criticized the divisions and prejudices based on skin color within the black community.[39] Hughes wrote what would be considered their manifesto, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain", published in The Nation in 1926:

    "The younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too. The tom-tom cries, and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain free within ourselves."[40]

Hughes identified as unashamedly black at a time when blackness was démodé. He stressed the theme of "black is beautiful" as he explored the black human condition in a variety of depths.[41] 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.[17][42]

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,"[43] 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.[44]

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.


"My People" in The Crisis (October 1923)[45]

Hughes stressed a racial consciousness and cultural nationalism devoid of self-hate. His thought united people of African descent and Africa across the globe to encourage pride in their diverse black folk culture and black aesthetic. Hughes was one of the few prominent black writers to champion racial consciousness as a source of inspiration for black artists.[46] His African-American race consciousness and cultural nationalism would influence many foreign black writers, such as Jacques Roumain, Nicolás Guillén, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Aimé Césaire. Along with the works of Senghor, Césaire, and other French-speaking writers of Africa and of African descent from the Caribbean, such as René Maran from Martinique and Léon Damas from French Guiana in South America, the works of Hughes helped to inspire the Négritude movement in France. A radical black self-examination was emphasized in the face of European colonialism.[47][48] In addition to his example in social attitudes, Hughes had an important technical influence by his emphasis on folk and jazz rhythms as the basis of his poetry of racial pride.[49]

In 1930, his first novel, Not Without Laughter, won the Harmon Gold Medal for literature. At a time before widespread arts grants, Hughes gained the support of private patrons and he was supported for two years prior to publishing this novel.[50] The protagonist of the story is a boy named Sandy, whose family must deal with a variety of struggles due to their race and class, in addition to relating to one another.

In 1931, Hughes helped form the "New York Suitcase Theater" with playwright Paul Peters, artist Jacob Burck, and writer (soon-to-be underground spy) Whittaker Chambers, an acquaintance from Columbia.[51] In 1932, he was part of a board to produce a Soviet film on "Negro Life" with Malcolm Cowley, Floyd Dell, and Chambers.[51]

In 1932, Hughes and Ellen Winter wrote a pageant to Caroline Decker in an attempt to celebrate her work with the striking coal miners of the Harlan County War, but it was never performed. It was judged to be a "long, artificial propaganda vehicle too complicated and too cumbersome to be performed."[52]

Maxim Lieber became his literary agent, 1933–45 and 1949-50. (Chambers and Lieber worked in the underground together around 1934–35.[53])
Hughes' first short story collection

Hughes' first collection of short stories was published in 1934 with The Ways of White Folks. He finished the book at a Carmel, California cottage provided for a year by Noel Sullivan, another patron.[54][55] These stories are a series of vignettes revealing the humorous and tragic interactions between whites and blacks. Overall, they are marked by a general pessimism about race relations, as well as a sardonic realism.[56]

In 1935 Hughes received a Guggenheim Fellowship. The same year that Hughes established his theater troupe in Los Angeles, he realized an ambition related to films by co-writing the screenplay for Way Down South.[57] Hughes believed his failure to gain more work in the lucrative movie trade was due to racial discrimination within the industry.

In Chicago, Hughes founded The Skyloft Players in 1941, which sought to nurture black playwrights and offer theater "from the black perspective."[58] Soon thereafter, he was hired to write a column for the Chicago Defender, in which he presented some of his "most powerful and relevant work", giving voice to black people. The column ran for twenty years. In 1943, Hughes began publishing stories about a character he called Jesse B. Semple, often referred to and spelled "Simple", the everyday black man in Harlem who offered musings on topical issues of the day.[58] Although Hughes seldom responded to requests to teach at colleges, in 1947 he taught at Atlanta University. In 1949, he spent three months at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools as a visiting lecturer. Between 1942 and 1949 Hughes was a frequent writer and served on the editorial board of Common Ground, a literary magazine focused on cultural pluralism in the United States published by the Common Council for American Unity (CCAU).

He wrote novels, short stories, plays, poetry, operas, essays, and works for children. With the encouragement of his best friend and writer, Arna Bontemps, and patron and friend, Carl Van Vechten, he wrote two volumes of autobiography, The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wander, as well as translating several works of literature into English.
Langston Hughes, 1943. Photo by Gordon Parks

During the mid-1950s and -1960s, Hughes' popularity among the younger generation of black writers varied even as his reputation increased worldwide. With the gradual advancement toward racial integration, many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date. They considered him a racial chauvinist.[59] He found some new writers, including James Baldwin, lacking in such pride, overintellectual in their work, and occasionally vulgar.[60][61][62]

Hughes wanted young black writers to be objective about their race, but not to scorn it or flee it.[46] He understood the main points of the Black Power movement of the 1960s, but believed that some of the younger black writers who supported it were too angry in their work. Hughes's work Panther and the Lash, posthumously published in 1967, was intended to show solidarity with these writers, but with more skill and devoid of the most virulent anger and racial chauvinism some showed toward whites.[63][64] Hughes continued to have admirers among the larger younger generation of black writers. He often helped writers by offering advice and introducing them to other influential persons in the literature and publishing communities. This latter group, including Alice Walker, whom Hughes discovered, looked upon Hughes as a hero and an example to be emulated within their own work. One of these young black writers (Loften Mitchell) observed of Hughes:

    "Langston set a tone, a standard of brotherhood and friendship and cooperation, for all of us to follow. You never got from him, 'I am the Negro writer,' but only 'I am a Negro writer.' He never stopped thinking about the rest of us."[65]

Political views

Hughes, like many black writers and artists of his time, was drawn to the promise of Communism as an alternative to a segregated America. Many of his lesser-known political writings have been collected in two volumes published by the University of Missouri Press and reflect his attraction to Communism. An example is the poem "A New Song".[66]

In 1932, Hughes became part of a group of black people who went to the Soviet Union to make a film depicting the plight of African Americans in the United States. The film was never made, but Hughes was given the opportunity to travel extensively through the Soviet Union and to the Soviet-controlled regions in Central Asia, the latter parts usually closed to Westerners. While there, he met Robert Robinson, an African American living in Moscow and unable to leave. In Turkmenistan, Hughes met and befriended the Hungarian author Arthur Koestler, then a Communist who was given permission to travel there.

As later noted in Koestler's autobiography, Hughes, together with some forty other Black Americans, had originally been invited to the Soviet Union to produce a Soviet film on "Negro Life",[67] but the Soviets dropped the film idea because of their 1933 success in getting the US to recognize the Soviet Union and establish an embassy in Moscow. This entailed a toning down of Soviet propaganda on racial segregation in America. Hughes and his fellow Blacks were not informed of the reasons for the cancelling, but he and Koestler worked it out for themselves.[68]

Hughes also managed to travel to China and Japan before returning to the States.

Hughes's poetry was frequently published in the CPUSA newspaper and he was involved in initiatives supported by Communist organizations, such as the drive to free the Scottsboro Boys. Partly as a show of support for the Republican faction during the Spanish Civil War, in 1937 Hughes traveled to Spain[69] as a correspondent for the Baltimore Afro-American and other various African-American newspapers. Hughes was also involved in other Communist-led organizations such as the John Reed Clubs and the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. He was more of a sympathizer than an active participant. He signed a 1938 statement supporting Joseph Stalin's purges and joined the American Peace Mobilization in 1940 working to keep the U.S. from participating in World War II.[70]

Hughes initially did not favor black American involvement in the war because of the persistence of discriminatory U.S. Jim Crow laws and racial segregation and disfranchisement throughout the South. He came to support the war effort and black American participation after deciding that war service would aid their struggle for civil rights at home.[71] The scholar Anthony Pinn has noted that Hughes, together with Lorraine Hansberry and Richard Wright, was a humanist "critical of belief in God. They provided a foundation for nontheistic participation in social struggle." Pinn has found that such writers are sometimes ignored in the narrative of American history that chiefly credits the civil rights movement to the work of affiliated Christian people.[72]

Hughes was accused of being a Communist by many on the political right, but he always denied it. When asked why he never joined the Communist Party, he wrote, "it was based on strict discipline and the acceptance of directives that I, as a writer, did not wish to accept." In 1953, he was called before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations led by Senator Joseph McCarthy. He stated, "I never read the theoretical books of socialism or communism or the Democratic or Republican parties for that matter, and so my interest in whatever may be considered political has been non-theoretical, non-sectarian, and largely emotional and born out of my own need to find some way of thinking about this whole problem of myself."[73] Following his testimony, Hughes distanced himself from Communism.[74] He was rebuked by some on the Radical Left who had previously supported him. He moved away from overtly political poems and towards more lyric subjects. When selecting his poetry for his Selected Poems (1959) he excluded all his radical Socialist verse from the 1930s.[74]
Representation in other media
The poem "Danse Africaine" as wallpoem in Leiden

Hughes was featured reciting his poetry on the album Weary Blues (MGM, 1959) with music by Charles Mingus and Leonard Feather and also contributed lyrics to Randy Weston's Uhuru Afrika (Roulette, 1960).

Hughes' life has been portrayed in film and stage productions since the late twentieth century. In Looking for Langston (1989), British filmmaker Isaac Julien claimed him as a black gay icon — Julien thought that Hughes' sexuality had historically been ignored or downplayed. Film portrayals of Hughes include Gary LeRoi Gray's role as a teenage Hughes in the short subject film Salvation (2003) (based on a portion of his autobiography The Big Sea), and Daniel Sunjata as Hughes in the Brother to Brother (2004). Hughes' Dream Harlem, a documentary by Jamal Joseph, examines Hughes' works and environment.

Paper Armor (1999) by Eisa Davis and Hannibal of the Alps (2005) by Michael Dinwiddie are plays by African-American playwrights that address Hughes's sexuality. Spike Lee's 1996 film Get on the Bus, included a black gay character, played by Isaiah Washington, who invokes the name of Hughes and punches a homophobic character, saying, "This is for James Baldwin and Langston Hughes."

Hughes was also featured prominently in a national campaign sponsored by the Center for Inquiry (CFI) known as African Americans for Humanism.[75]
Literary archives

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University holds the Langston Hughes papers (1862–1980) and the Langston Hughes collection (1924–1969) containing letters, manuscripts, personal items, photographs, clippings, artworks, and objects that document the life of Hughes. The Langston Hughes Memorial Library on the campus of Lincoln University, as well as at the James Weldon Johnson Collection within the Yale University also hold archives of Hughes' work.[76]
Honors and awards

    1926: Hughes won the Witter Bynner Undergraduate Poetry Prize.
    1935: Hughes was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed him to travel to Spain and Russia.
    1941: Hughes was awarded a fellowship from the Rosenwald Fund.
    1943: Lincoln University awarded Hughes an honorary Litt.D.
    1954: Hughes won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.
    1960: the NAACP awarded Hughes the Spingarn Medal for distinguished achievements by an African American.
    1961: National Institute of Arts and Letters.[77]
    1963: Howard University awarded Hughes an honorary doctorate.
    1964: Western Reserve University awarded Hughes an honorary Litt.D.
    1973: the first Langston Hughes Medal was awarded by the City College of New York.
    1979: Langston Hughes Middle School was created in Reston, Virginia.
    1981: New York City Landmark status was given to the Harlem home of Langston Hughes at 20 East 127th Street (40°48′26.32″N 73°56′25.54″W) by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and 127th Street was renamed Langston Hughes Place.[78] The Langston Hughes House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[79]
    2002: The United States Postal Service added the image of Langston Hughes to its Black Heritage series of postage stamps.
    2002: scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Langston Hughes on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[80]
    2015: Google Doodle commemorated his 113th birthday.[81]

Bibliography
Library resources about
Langston Hughes

    Resources in your library
    Resources in other libraries

By Langston Hughes

    Resources in your library
    Resources in other libraries

Poetry collections

    The Weary Blues, Knopf, 1926
    Fine Clothes to the Jew, Knopf, 1927
    The Negro Mother and Other Dramatic Recitations, 1931
    Dear Lovely Death, 1931
    The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, Knopf, 1932
    Scottsboro Limited: Four Poems and a Play, Golden Stair Press, N.Y., 1932
    Let America Be America Again, 1938
    Shakespeare in Harlem, Knopf, 1942
    Freedom's Plow, 1943
    Fields of Wonder, Knopf, 1947
    One-Way Ticket, 1949
    Montage of a Dream Deferred, Holt, 1951
    Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, 1958
    Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, Hill & Wang, 1961
    The Panther and the Lash: Poems of Our Times, 1967
    The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Knopf, 1994

Novels and short story collections

    Not Without Laughter. Knopf, 1930
    The Ways of White Folks. Knopf, 1934
    Simple Speaks His Mind. 1950
    Laughing to Keep from Crying, Holt, 1952
    Simple Takes a Wife. 1953
    Sweet Flypaper of Life, photographs by Roy DeCarava. 1955
    Simple Stakes a Claim. 1957
    Tambourines to Glory 1958
    The Best of Simple. 1961
    Simple's Uncle Sam. 1965
    Something in Common and Other Stories. Hill & Wang, 1963
    Short Stories of Langston Hughes. Hill & Wang, 1996

Non-fiction books

    The Big Sea. New York: Knopf, 1940
    Famous American Negroes. 1954
    Famous Negro Music Makers, published by Dodd, Mead, New York 1955
    I Wonder as I Wander. New York: Rinehart & Co., 1956
    A Pictorial History of the Negro in America, with Milton Meltzer. 1956
    Famous Negro Heroes of America. 1958
    Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP. 1962

Major plays

    Mule Bone, with Zora Neale Hurston. 1931
    Mulatto. 1935 (renamed The Barrier, an opera, in 1950)
    Troubled Island, with William Grant Still. 1936
    Little Ham. 1936
    Emperor of Haiti. 1936
    Don't You Want to be Free? 1938
    Street Scene, contributed lyrics. 1947
    Tambourines to Glory. 1956
    Simply Heavenly. 1957
    Black Nativity. 1961
    Five Plays by Langston Hughes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1963.
    Jerico-Jim Crow. 1964

Books for children

    Popo and Fifina, with Arna Bontemps. 1932
    The First Book of the Negroes. 1952
    The First Book of Jazz. 1954
    Marian Anderson: Famous Concert Singer, with Steven C. Tracy. 1954
    The First Book of Rhythms. 1954
    The First Book of the West Indies. 1956
    First Book of Africa. 1964
    Black Misery. Illustrated by Arouni. 1969; reprinted 1994, Oxford University Press.

Other writings

    The Langston Hughes Reader. New York: Braziller, 1958.
    Good Morning Revolution: Uncollected Social Protest Writings by Langston Hughes. Lawrence Hill, 1973.
    The Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2001.
    "My Adventures as a Social Poet" (essay), Phylon, 3rd Quarter 1947.
    "The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain" (article), The Nation, June 23, 1926.
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