Struggle for Justice in Langston Hughes’s Poetry

Topics: African American, Black people, Langston Hughes Pages: 7 (2643 words) Published: September 2, 2013
James Mercer Langston Hughes is an outstanding African-American poet, novelist, journalist and social activist. He was one of the innovators who first used jazz in the form of great poetry. He was one of the inspirers for the unique American cultural movement known as the “Harlem Renaissance”. Langston was one of the first African-Americans who contributed a tremendous influence to black culture throughout the United States and took an active part in creating and developing Afro-American literature, the literature of struggle and hope (Bajaj 1). During his forty years of successful writing carrier Hughes published seventeen books of poetry, seven short story collections, twenty-six dramatic works, two novels, and two autobiographies. The first poems Hughes wrote while still being a student, however, a true literary debut was in 1921, when the magazine “The Crisis” published one of his poems. In the early poems Hughes praised the spiritual and moral values of ordinary Americans, the writer widely used folklore, in particular, the tradition of Negro songs, spiritual and jazz music. Nonetheless, true recognition the author gained for his late lyrics characterized by synthesis of a variety of genres and focused on social aspects of interracial relationships and the struggle of African-American society for civil rights (Niemi 1). During the era of segregation and suppression Langston Hughes’s poems played a significant role in the inspiration of downtrodden African-American people provoking them to fight for equality and justice. In his work the author was actively addressing the concerns of black society relating to racial hatred, their conditions and struggle against white oppression. The problematic topic reflecting on the problem between the two cultures was not chosen by Langston Hughes accidentally; his early life played an important role in selecting the direction of his work. The author was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902 in a family of separated parents. His father, drawn by the achievements of his professional goals, abandoned his wife and a newborn child and moved to Mexico where he successfully worked as a lawyer. However, the life of little Langston and his mother can be characterized by uncertainty and instability. In an attempt to find work his mother and he were facing numerous resettlements constantly changing places across the country. Hughes’s mother was a creative person – she was always interested in the arts, and throughout her life she greatly supported her son’s creativity. She valued a good education and was strived to provide her son with a chance to succeed in life. In his early years Hughes attended a white school which gave him an opportunity to be part of the prime society. However, after a few months, due to financial instability, once again Langston was forced to move to a different place, but this time the seven-year-old boy had to stay with his grandmother. During his early years Hughes spent a lot of time reading with his beloved grandmother. Her bedtime stories about heroic black people fighting for liberty and justice and about their determination and struggles had a significant impact on the boy’s creativity. Shortly after his grandmother’s death in 1914, Hughes moved to Illinois to live with his mother. It was a happy time for the author, the time when his writing career began. At the age of thirteen Langston was an elected class poet who wrote his first sixteen poems devoted to his beloved teachers and classmates, which he read at his graduation ceremony. Hughes’s high school years were characterized by tremendous interest in poetry and music. Upon high school graduation Hughes had already become a published writer, and his achievements were leading him to a bright future in writing. However, his father with a little interest in art saw a different future for his son. He wanted him to be an engineer and fully supported the idea that he should study at Columbia University in New York...
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