image of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was born in 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. He moved to New York at an early age becoming one of the earliest innovators of a new art form, jazz poetry. Later, he became a part of Harlem's growing cultural movement, what is commonly known as the Harlem Renaissance. Langston Hughes was also among the first to use jazz rhythms and dialect to depict the life of urban Black people in his work. He sought to honestly portray the joys and hardships of working-class black lives, avoiding both sentimental idealization and negative stereotypes. In 1925, Langston Hughes’ poem “The Weary Blues” won first prize in the Opportunity Magazine literary competition, and he also received a scholarship to attend Lincoln University, in Pennsylvania. His play Mulatto, adapted from one of his short stories, premiered on Broadway in 1935, and productions of several other plays followed in the late 1930s. He also founded theatre companies in Harlem (1937) and Los Angeles (1939). In 1940, Langston Hughes published The Big Sea, his autobiography up to age 28. Langston Hughes went on to author many poems, columns, novels, and plays. His ashes are interred beneath the entrance of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, The inscription marking the spot features a line from Hughes'; poem
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers"; It reads: "My soul has grown deep like the rivers."