Langston Hughes Research Paper

25309 Words Mar 20th, 2013 102 Pages
In 1919, when Langston Hughes was seventeen years old, he spent the summer with his father, Jim Hughes, in Toluca, Mexico. Langston had not seen his father since he was a small child, and he was excited about making the trip. However, during this visit, no affectionate bond would develop between Langston and Jim. Jim Hughes was a cold, difficult man, who was driven by ambition to make money and achieve respect. He had moved to Mexico to avoid segregation and racial injustice in the United States. As the manager of an electric company and owner of a ranch and mines, Jim expressed contempt for black Americans who continued to submit to segregation and live in poverty.

Langston Hughes, 1933 (Library of Congress)

Langston was not ashamed
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Langston had no playmates because Mary Langston lived in a run-down, white neighborhood. He was afraid to leave his yard, where he was safe from rowdy white boys who chased and teased him about the second hand clothes and cast-off women's shoes that he wore.

Langston spent many hours sitting on a stool beside his grandmother, who read him stories from the Bible or from his favorite book, Grimm's Fairy Tales. Her long wavy hair had very little gray in it, and in her ears she wore the small gold earrings Langston's grandfather left her. Her lips were thin, and her skin, "wrinkled like an Indian squaw's," was a lighter shade of brown than Langston's.

Carrie Hughes worked in Topeka as a stenographer for a black attorney and as a clerk for a newspaper. Occasionally, on weekends, she would take Langston to Kansas City. His Uncle Dessalines owned a barbershop in a black neighborhood, where people's lifestyles were far different from that of his strict grandmother in Lawrence. Langston roamed the streets near the barbershop. He played the nickelodeon and listened to street musicians playing the "blues."

Mary Langston was a devoted grandmother to her grandson. (Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

In 1908, six-year-old Langston moved to Topeka to live with his mother in an apartment over a plumbing shop. Jim Hughes

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