James Mercer Langston Hughes was one of the most influential African-American writers during the Harlem Renaissance. He was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri to James and Carrie Mercer Hughes. Hughes parents divorced shortly after his birth and his father moved to Mexico. Hughes went to live with his grandmother, Mary Patterson Langston in Kansas while his mother travelled back and forth with jobs. After his grandmother died he went to live with friends of the family, James and Mary Reed for two years. Hughes attended school at Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio. He started writing while he was in the eighth grade, during which he was selected as Class Poet. Langston Hughes went on to be one of the greatest African-American poets of all times, inspiring many with his writing to become writers.
Langston Hughes did not have a great relationship with his father. He went to Mexico to live with his father, however it on was only for a brief time due to differences of opinion the two were not able to get along with each other. Although once Langston graduated from high school, he returned to Mexico to live with his father again. Langston tried to convince his father to help pay for him to attend Columbia University to become a poet. His father’s desire was for Langston to become an engineer. Seeing that his son’s works were being published on a regular basis by Crisis, Langston’s father eventually became so impressed with his accomplishments that he could not deny his demands (Rummel 19). Langston went on to Columbia University where he studied engineering for one year and then dropped out because of his desire to continue on with his writing. Later in life Hughes went back to school where he earned a B.A. degree from Lincoln University.
Hughes began writing poetry in the eighth grade, and was selected as the Class Poet. Influenced by writers such as Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman, Hughes continued to write while attending high school. He wrote a number of poems and short stories for the school paper. It was during this time that Hughes came to realize what type of poetry he wanted to write. Instead of traditional verse Hughes used the free verse style of poetry which was used by a couple of his favorite poets Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman. While in Mexico with his father, Hughes sent three of the poems he had written to a publishing company in New York for black children called Brownies’ Book. One of the three poems was published making it his first to appear in a publication that reached a large number of readers. Later, his poems, short plays, essays, and short stories appeared in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) publication Crisis Magazine and in Opportunity Magazine and other publications. One of Hughes' finest essays appeared in the Nation in 1926, entitled The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.
Hughes early inspiration for writing came from the loneliness of his...