James Langston Hughes

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James Langston Hughes was the narrator of black life in the nineteen hundreds. Not because he wrote about the lifestyle of the black Jazz movement, or because he wrote about the oppression and struggles of black people, but because he lived it. Hughes brought the life of the black race to light for all to live through his writings. Langston Hughes' role as a writer is vital to the history of black and American culture and many think he understood this role and embraced it. James Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Mississippi. He was the only child of James and Carrie Hughes. His parents divorced in 1907 and his father, who thought he could not become a lawyer due to racism moved to Mexico. His mother often moved from city to city in looking for work, so the young Langston Hughes was left in the care of his grandmother, Mary Langston. Hughes came from a line of African- American activists. His grandfather, Charles Langston was a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad and the founder of several Midwestern schools for African American children. Charles Langston’s brother, John Mercer Langston, won a local Ohio election in 1855 and became the first African American elected to public office in the United States. John Mercer also became the first black U.S. Congressman elected from Virginia. James Langston was a lonely child who found solace in books. In 1915, when he was thirteen his grandmother died and Langston Hughes went to live with his mother and her new husband in Illinois. He started eighth grade while in Illinois and at this young age, he began his career as a writer. At the end of his grammar school days, he was elected class poet. One of his teachers first introduced him to the poetry of Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman, both whom Hughes would later cite as primary influences. Hughes was also a regular contributor to his school's literary magazine, and frequently submitted to other poetry magazines. Hughes attended...
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