Langston Hughes (1902–1967)
African American poet, playwright, and fiction writer. Born in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes grew up in the American Midwest before coming to New York City to attend Columbia University. Appalled by the racial discrimination there, he left Columbia to pursue his own writing, especially the “jazz poetry” that became his hallmark. After a period of travel and living abroad, he returned to the United States to complete his B.A. at Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University. He returned to New York and soon emerged as a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, beginning with his collection of poems, The Weary Blues, in 1926. In his lifetime he would publish sixteen more volumes of poetry as well as two novels, seven collections of short stories, twenty-six plays, and seven works of nonfiction, including the memoir The Big Sea (1940). See also poetryfoundation.org.