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Langston Hughes’ spectacular flair for poetry began on February 1, 1902 when he was born in the small town on Joplin, Missouri. Through Langston Hughes contribution to poetry, he truly inspired a generation of children and adults alike to follow the meaning in his poetry. He also contributed immensely to the historical time known as the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes is the face of the Harlem Renaissance today and shows kids and adults alike what it was like growing up in Harlem and the African Americans struggle for equality there. The focus will be on his life and legacy, his fight for racial equality, some well-known figures who used his works in their speeches, and his work in the Harlem Renaissance.
As stated previously, Hughes used his gift in poetry to fight for equality for his African-American brothers and sisters. Some famous people who have fought for equality have used his poetry in their speeches. One example is how to face of the Civil Rights Movement in America used his poetry, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His favorite poem to use in his speeches was his poem “Mother to Son.” This is about a mother giving her son a motivational talk about reaching his goals and aspirations in life. This translates to Dr. King’s goal of reaching social equality for African-Americans in the U.S. For example, King used one of Hughes poems by name on June 27th, 1956 at the NAACP conference in San Francisco, California. King read the poem and used it as an example to continue the fight for racial equality. The poem helped give his speech life, a deeper meaning, and left the audience thinking about the meaning of the poem and how it relates to his message. Also, Hughes wrote a poem about King and Rosa Parks. The poem is called “Brotherly Love.” He writes about how he doesn’t want to punish the white citizens of the south who have been harassing him, he wants to “reach out” his hand and live in harmony. He also brings up how he won’t sit in the back of the bus in Montgomery, alluding to the incident that occurred with Rosa Parks. His literature helped show those in opposition to the civil rights movement that all they want is peace and equality for all, as promised to all citizens in our constitution. His works to push for equality also caused backlash. Hughes was brought to a hearing in front of Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was well known for accusing prominent figures of communism, and Hughes was one of them for his work. So, while fighting for the equality, he put his career at stake and was fearless when presented with these false accusations.
While his writing about race is well known, Hughes’ claim to fame is the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a time in the 1920’s when a huge influx of talent through poetry, acting, singing and more came out of Harlem in New York City shocked the world. Though Hughes was not born in Harlem, he moved there and became intrigued by this talent and decided to get in on it. He wrote about Harlem and what he saw there. However, one story that was particularly intriguing is “Thank You, M’am.” This is a story about a young boy named Roger. Roger did not have a lot of money and was looking to fit in by getting a pair of blue suede shoes. He decided to get them through stealing from a older woman’s purse at night. However, he had run into Ms. Luella Bates Washington Jones. She was not going to go down without a fight. She captured him and took him to her house. She gave him some advice, and then gave him the money he needed to buy those shoes. This gave the world insight as to how these kids in Harlem back then lived. They wanted to fit in. They wanted to have everything the “normal” kids had. These kids were willing to do whatever it took to fit in. However, if you were lucky enough, you would run into someone who might be tough, but gives you life advice that the kids will cherish forever. This was what the Harlem Renaissance was all about. It was people expressing the good in humanity through their sterling works of art.
That is all about Langston Hughes and what he did to contribute to the world. The talented poet used his work to push for racial equality. He used his poetry to give the oppressed in society hope. He wrote about Harlem and the everyday struggles of children there to fit in. However, one trait that gleams from him is bravery. Hughes put his life on the line opposing racism, as well as his career with the communist allegations. He was unflinching, even though his dear friend Dr. Martin Luther King was killed for fighting for the same equality he was searching for. One final example of his bravery is how he moved from a small city in Missouri to New York City and becoming accustomed to their culture. So when looking for inspiration to do the right thing, to use your talents for good, remember one of Hughes’ quotes: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
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