Essay on A Universal Renaissance Man

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A Universal Renaissance Man James Mercer Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri, to school teacher Carrie (Caroline) Mercer Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes. Hughes’ father left his family, and later divorced Carrie moving to Cuba, and then Mexico trying to escape the racism in the United States. Since his mom traveled looking for work, young Langston was being raised by his maternal grandmother, Mary Patterson Langston in Lawrence, Kansas. She told him stories of abolitionist and courageous slaves who struggled for their freedom, it was these stories that gave him a great sense of racial pride. After the death of his grandmother in 1912 Langston lived with family friends for awhile, but, eventually he ended up…show more content…
It is on the trip to Mexico that thinking of his dad’s disdain for his people that Langston wrote “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” it was published in Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Langston is noted as saying, “I didn’t understand it, because I was a Negro, and I liked Negroes very much.” As he crossed the Mississippi River Langston looked out the window and thought of what rivers meant to the black slaves. In the beginning his father had hoped he would attend a university abroad and study engineering, but Langston wanted to be a writer. The two came to a compromise: Langston would study engineering as long as he could attend Columbia. Although he managed to maintain a B+ GPA he left in 1922 because of racial prejudice. It was at this time that he became more involved with Harlem than his studies, though he continued writing poetry. Although Langston’s poetry career had begun in 1921 after “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” Langston worked various jobs before becoming a crewman aboard the S.S. Malone in 1923 and traveling to West Africa and Europe. He spent six months as a busboy in Paris and continued writing poetry influenced by Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, and Laurence Dunbar. In 1924 he decided to return back to the U.S. to live with his mom in Washington, D.C. Langston again worked various jobs until he landed
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