Langston Hughes And Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance brought about many great changes. It was a time for
expressing the African-American culture. Many famous people began their writing
or gained their recognition during this time. The Harlem Renaissance took place
during the 1920ís and 1930ís. Many things came about during the Harlem

Renaissance; things such as jazz and blues, poetry, dance, and musical theater.

The African-American way of life became the "thing." Many white people came
to discover this newest art, dancing, music, and literature. The Great Migration
of African-American people from the rural South to the North, and many into

Harlem was the cause of this phenomenon. Harlem was originally a Dutch
settlement. Harlem became one of the largest African- American communities in
the United States, and during the Harlem Renaissance became a center for art and
literature. Many great writers came about during this time, one of which was

Langston Hughes. Hughes was born in 1902 with the name James Langston Hughes,
and died in 1967. He lived most of his adult life in Harlem. He grew up without
a stable family environment. His father moved to Mexico, and he never really saw
much of him. Hughes was often referred to as "Harlemís poet" (Haskins

174). Hughes had and still has a great influence on poetry. Hughes poetry was a
reflection of the African-American culture and Harlem. He wrote many poems, and
continued to write even after the Harlem Renaissance. He loved Harlem that was
his home. He watched it decline with the onset of the Great Depression. He saw

Harlem turn into a place to be feared by many. It was a sad and dangerous place
to be, after the depression. Hughes described the impact of the Great Depression
upon African-Americans, "The depression brought everyone down a peg or two.

And the Negro had but a few pegs to fall" (Haskins 174). Langston Hughes
valued the teaching of children. Many of his poems are childrenís poems. He
often traveled to schools and read his poetry. His first published works were in
a childrenís magazine during the 1920ís. He published a book of ABCís
called The Sweet and Sour Animal Book. He wanted to inspire the youth, and make
them feel good about themselves. He did not only write poetry, but that is what
he is famous for. Much of his poetry talks of the hardships, poverty,
inequality, etc. of the African-American people. His work has inspired many
people, and is read by many students and scholars. He is a great positive role
model. I personally love his poetry. It describes these problems within our
society that still have yet to be resolved. It opens the readerís eyes to the
many disadvantages that many people have suffered through and are still trying
to overcome. Hughes writes about how the African-American people have been all
over the world. In "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" he talks about them bathing
in the Euphrates, building huts by the Congo, and singing of the Mississippi. I
think that this poem is showing how these people are everywhere. That in America
we act as if they are subordinate, but he is saying to the white people, look at
all my race has accomplished. "We" built the pyramids, and we have been
around as long as these rivers. This is a positive poem. It does not talk
directly about racism nor puts down the white race for being prejudiced (Lauter

1612-13). In the poem, "I, Too" he describes how he is also part of what

America is. Even if he is sent to eat in the kitchen, he is as much a part as
anyone else. One day he will not be made to hide and eat in the kitchen. One day
people will see that African-Americans are beautiful people, and will be ashamed
of how they were treated. This poem gives hope to the black community. It makes
them yearn for the day when equality will come and racism will end. Too bad that
the day has still not yet come in this century (Lauter 1618). In his poem,

"Harlem" this is addressed. He wonders what happens to dreams that are
deferred. How long must one still dream of something that seems like it will
never come. The African-American people have been waiting to be seen as equal
for many years, yet it still seems so out of reach. His poetry seems to address
this over and over again (Lauter 1619). In "The Negro Artist and the Racial

Mountain," a young Negro poet said, "I want to be a poet-not