Essay on The Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes

1038 Words 5 Pages
Langston Hughes was one of the most important writers and thinkers of the
Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, which was the first major movement of African-
American life and culture. Hughes was influenced by living in New York City's Harlem, where his literary works helped shape American literature and politics. Hughes strong sense of racial pride helped him promote equality, celebrate African-
American culture, and condemn racism through his poetry, novels, plays, essays, and children's books (America’s Library). Hughes is referred to as a literary phenomenon. He was one of the first African-
American men of literature who was determined to make a productive and profitable career out of his writing. The historical
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One of his teachers introduced him to Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman's poetry, who stood out as Hughes primary influences. Hughes graduated from high school in 1920 and spent the following year in Mexico with his father. Around this time, Hughes's poem
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" was published in The Crisis magazine and was highly praised (The Biography Channel). In 1921, Hughes enrolled at Columbia University where he studied briefly, and during this time he quickly became a part of the Harlem Renaissance. Four years later, he was working as a busboy in a Washington, D.C. hotel restaurant when he met an
American poet Vachel Lindsay. Hughes showed some of his poems to Lindsay, who used his connections to promote Hughes’s poetry and bring it towards a wider audience.
Hughes’s poem, “The Weary Blues” won first prize in the Opportunity magazine literary competition. While studying at Lincoln, Hughes poetry came to the attention of novelist and critic Carl Van Vechten, who used his connections to help get Hughes’s first book of poetry, “The Weary Blues”, published by Knopf in 1926. Hughes was also among the first to use jazz rhythms and dialect to depict the life of urban blacks in his work (The
Biography Channel). During the 1930s he continued to write and publish poetry and prose during this time, and in 1934 he published his first collection of short stories, The Ways