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BIOGRAPHICAL STATS Born in Joplin, Missouri February 1, 1902—Died May 22, 1967 Buried in Harlem, New York Considered the most important writer of the Harlem.

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Presentation on theme: "BIOGRAPHICAL STATS Born in Joplin, Missouri February 1, 1902—Died May 22, 1967 Buried in Harlem, New York Considered the most important writer of the Harlem."— Presentation transcript:

1 BIOGRAPHICAL STATS Born in Joplin, Missouri February 1, 1902—Died May 22, 1967 Buried in Harlem, New York Considered the most important writer of the Harlem Renaissance but wrote throughout early to mid 20 th century!

2 EARLY YEARS Both of his parents were bookkeepers, so he grew up being around all different types of literature. His family also belonged to an Abolitionist group, which fought for the rights of African- Americans during the early part of the 20 th century

3 INFLUENCE OF MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER, MARY Proud woman who would not work as a cleaning lady; consequently had trouble earning money. She would not borrow money as well Grandmother shared stories about his grandfather who took part in John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 to arm the slaves

4 Early Education/Years Lived with grandmother until he was 12 Went to live with mother who fought for him to attend a white elementary school Was always lonely as a child and used books to help him Difficult relationship with both parents

5 During the time Hughes lived with his grandmother, she was old and poor and unable to give Hughes the attention he needed. Besides, Hughes felt hurt by both his mother and his father, and was unable to understand why he was not allowed to live with either of them. These feelings of rejection caused him to grow up very insecure and unsure of himself

6 Grandmother’s Death When Langston Hughes's grandmother died, his mother summoned him to her home in Lincoln, Illinois. Here, according to Hughes, he wrote his first verse and was named class poet of his eighth grade class.

7 HIGH SCHOOL Hughes lived in Lincoln for only a year, and then moved with him mother and stepfather to Cleveland, Ohio where he graduated from high school. His writing talent was recognized by his high school teachers and classmates, and Hughes had his first pieces of verse published in the sophisticated school magazine. An English teacher introduced him to poets such as Carl Sandburg and Walk Whitman, and these became Hughes' earliest influences

8 High School Experiences in Ohio Friends with white classmates but suffered from discrimination from other whites in the community Closest friend, a polish boy—Sartur Andrzejewski who was always upset with the discrimination put on Langston. Earned recognition for track, yearbook and ROTC. Worked summers running a dumb waiter and a delivery boy to save for college.

9 Relationship with Father During the summer following his junior year in high schol, he accompanied his father to Mexico to see what the country was like—and his father as well. That summer and the following summer after high graduation were the most miserable that Langston had ever known.

10 CONFLICTS WITH FATHER Father disapproved of his son’s choosing writing as a career He wanted Langston to choose a ‘stable’ profession Langston finally agreed to study Engineering at Columbia University in New York and arrived there in 1921.

11 Experiences at Columbia That year, he lived VERY poor—until father sent money, had to borrow books from library and barely had enough money to eat. Still maintained a B+ average. After one year at Columbia, he quit, broke with his father and went off to travel on his own.

12 His First Travels Abroad After traveling through the Canary Islands, the Azores, the West Coast of Africa, he set sail again for Holland and then with 20 dollars to his name, moved to Paris Traveled to Italy, a celebrity there (because of his skin color)—unlike in the United States Had money pick pocketed on train and was forced to live as a beach comber

13 Continued Experiences With Discrimination and Return to the U.S. Could not board a ship home to America until a “colored one” arrived Wrote another famous poem “I Too” about his experience with discrimination …. 1924—lived with his mother in Washington DC— Worked as clerical assistant for Carter Woodson (father of black history)— Worked as a busboy and began sharing his poems

14 Influence of Harlem Renaissance and His Big Break 1925—his poem “Weary Blues” got published and he won first prize 1925-received a scholarship from a white woman to attend Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), but traveled frequently to Harlem. Very close friends with Duke Ellington 1926, published his first book of poems

15 Style of Writing “Hang yourself, poet, in your own words. Otherwise, you are dead..” 1964 Controversial—often included “black dialect” and wanted to write about his personal experiences with discrimination, Jim Crow laws and from what he observed. Many other black writers did not appreciate this— called him a low rate poet.

16 1930s 1932—traveled again to Russia—began to think highly of Communism in which there was no Jim Crow and anti-semitism and he saw education/health care for everyone Wrote a volume of short stories while there Returned to the South and gained a following as he read and wrote poems—many states a danger for him since he wrote about racism, lynching and lack of freedom

17 Influences to his writing For most of his life, he lived among ordinary people and experienced first hand their struggles in society. Langston Hughes’ career was influenced and shaped by the struggles of poor black families as a result of his experiences.

18 World War II Supported the war but also asked the government to support freedom at home During the 1940s, his poetry continued to be published including the famous poem “One Way Ticket”

19 The Cold War Attacked because of his previously published statements supporting communism. 1953—had to testify before the House of Un American Activities (McCarthy) Maintained his status as a loyal American by insisting the he no longer agreed with the

20 Last Years of His Life Published short stories, plays and a few scripts for television 1961—inducted into the National Institutes of Arts and Letters—published a book of poems to be read with jazz “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz”

21 Death Died from an infection following prostate surgery At his memorial, asked to have Duke Ellington’s song “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” played “ “Had I been a rich man, I would have bought a house in Harlem and built musical steps up the front door and installed chimes that at the press of a button played Ellington tunes…” Works continued to get published after his death

22 LANGSTON HUGHES: THE GENIUS Through his poetry, novels, plays, essays, and children's books, Langston Hughes promoted equality, condemned racism and injustice, and celebrated African American culture, humor, and spirituality.

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