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Essay about Langston Hughes

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Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes had become one of the most influential writers in American literature. His works are regarded to be the inspiration of many, particularly the youth of the African-American community. Through his gained fame as a writer, he was even considered as the voice of the African-American community to the world. Admirably, Langston Hughes had become an artist during the time whence racial discrimination was prevalent. His writings had transcended racial barriers to communicate peace and equality among all men.

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His works had been highly anthologized and published. His poems had even received much acclaim from literature enthusiast worldwide. It is just interesting to note that his biography had been just as read as his works. Langston Hughes, along with his biography and works, is staple subject for those who endeavor in literature studies.

Brief biography

            There is a notion that childhood has a significant influence over the development of an artist. Here is a condensed version of Langston Hughes’ biography.

The purpose of reviewing the life of Langston Hughes is to give us an idea of how he had developed a creative mind and a keen sense to what is happening in the society.

His youth could be described as an unstable one. There are so many changes happening around the young Langston. His family background could also be regarded as an irregular one. Hughes was born into a relatively large family wherein he had a total of eight siblings. His parents had to be separated because of the enduring racism in the United States during that time. The young Langston had to move constantly to different household. There are times wherein he had to stay with his mother and step-father, with his grandmother, and even other surrogate parents. His grandmother was probably the one who had cared much for the young Langston. Unfortunately, when his grandmother died, family friends took care of Hughes. Hughes had described his childhood in one of his essays. He had beautifully put into words his nomadic childhood in his essay “Ten Thousand Beds” (Harper).

            His nomadic childhood would lead us to the assumption that Hughes did not have an entirely happy childhood. At a very young age Langston Hughes was introduced to bitter realities of life. His unstable custody had profoundly influenced him as writer. The essay “Ten Thousand Beds” is just one testimony to that assumption.

              Langston Hughes was seemingly being trained to be a writer as a child. When he was still young, he used to listen to the African-American oral tradition of storytelling. And through those stories, the young mind of Hughes was inculcated with the value of racial pride.

            During his high-school education in Cleveland, Ohio, Hughes was elected as class poet. Hughes suspects that he was made class poet because of the stereotype that African-Americans have rhythm.

As an adult, Hughes had worked many menial jobs. This had broadened his consciousness about the society.

As a writer

            Langston Hughes had written many works about the life of African-Americans. And because of that he was considered as the voice of the African-American community. In line with that, racial discrimination is one of the most common themes in Hughes’s work.

            The poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” is one of Hughes best known work. Immediately, the readers are hinted that this poem would be about race, as strongly hinted by the term “Negro.” Langston Hughes said that the poem was about the significance of the Mississippi river to the African-American heritage (poets.org). In addition to that, the poem is like Hughes’ message to the world that African-Americans are just as good as anyone in terms of poetry.

            Perhaps his most popular work, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” was published in 1926. In this particular work, the writing technique of Langston Hughes seems transparent. Hughes’ writing style could be described as empowering, motivational, and inspirational. And because of his training as a poet, almost every line in “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” echoes in the minds of the readers, “if white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not it does not matter. We know we are beautiful…” (Hughes). And because of the message and the attained popularity of this particular piece, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” was considered as the manifesto for young African-American artists.

            It also appeared that Langston Hughes takes pride in being the representative for the African-American community. In his poem “A New Song”, which is considered as a political poem, Hughes had acknowledged his responsibility as an African-American writer. This is suggested by the first lines of the poem, “I speak in the names of the black millions / awakening in action / let all others keep silent a moment / I have this word to bring” (Hughes). Then Hughes would go on with a political poem about the prevalent problem of racial discrimination within the so-called free society.

            It is noticeable in the works of Hughes that he is not afraid to throw-in what could be considered “buzz words” in the very sensitive topic of racial discrimination. Other writers would think twice before using terms like “Negro”, “Black”, “White”, “colored”, and the likes. Langston Hughes was successful in incorporating these terms to his works that conveys empowering messages to African-Americans.

            But ultimately, Hughes’s success as a writer owes much to his exquisite writing. His talent with metaphors could mesmerize any reader of any race. In his poem “My Poem”, dedicated to the African-American people, he wrote “the night is beautiful / so the faces of my people” (Hughes).  This is just one of the poems wherein Hughes expressed how beautiful are African-Americans.

            Langston Hughes had become such a great writer because of his sensibility. That is because he had experienced the bitter realities of the society, such as racial discrimination, firsthand. Moreover, he is a writer with a very profound message to share. His writings transcend mere self-expression, but an expression of a whole race. And because of that, Langston Hughes should be read not only by African-Americans but also by other race.

Works Cited

Hughes, Langston. The Negro Speak of Rivers. Retrieved 3 August 2008


Low, Denise. Langton Hughes Biography. Retrieved 3 August 2008


Ostrom, Hans. A Langston Hughes Encyclopedia. Westport: Greenwood Press. 2002

Harper, Donna Akiba Sullivan. Black History: Langston Hughes. Retrieved 3 August

2008 <http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/bhm/bio/hughes_l.htm>

Cite this Essay about Langston Hughes

Essay about Langston Hughes. (2016, Jun 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/essay-about-langston-hughes/

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