Racial Equality In Works By Langston Hughes

1933 words - 8 pages

Born in 1902, only 40 years after the death of “The Great Emancipator”, Langston Hughes suffered through many hardships because of his race. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, African-Americans did not enjoy the same privileges as those of white descent, and throughout this period, many great thinkers expressed their displeasure through various mediums. Langston Hughes became of these great thinkers. Widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of the Harlem Renaissance (a period of great cultural development among African-American communities, particularly Harlem), Hughes became one of the most prominent figures in the fight for racial equality. His works such as “Harlem, A Dream Deferred” and “Dream Boogie” call for racial equality and warn about the potential consequences if this call is ignored.
As one of the founding fathers of the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes contributed many works to the betterment of African-American culture. He expressed his views from the point of view of an African-American living in a predominantly white world while he was attending Columbia University. In his poem “Theme for English B”, Hughes tries to explain to his professor, who is white, that he and Hughes do not share the same reality because of their racial difference but that this difference does not mean they aren’t both equal. He explains that even though he lives in a predominantly black neighborhood, he still likes the same things people of other races enjoy, such as “a pipe for a Christmas present, or records---Bessie, bop, or Bach” (Hughes 23). This poem is a protest against the prejudicial view that many white people have to this day about African-Americans. They view black people as inherently different from white people, with no common traits or characteristics and nothing to learn from each other. This view has also been extended towards women. Often seen as a weaker and more emotional sex, women have never had as many privileges as men. Their duties were often limited to taking care of the household and raising the children while the husband worked. Today, while women are guaranteed the same rights as men, women in the workplace make less money than their male coworkers performing the same job, with the same title. While Hughes focused primarily on equality for African-Americans, his works are also applicable in the fight for women’s rights.
Throughout Langston Hughes’ works, he makes it clear that he views his African-American descent as a source of pride. He accepts his racial background and embraces it and tries to make others understand how he feels as a black man living in 20th century America. One of the best examples of this pride can be found in his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” which he wrote when he was 17 years old. His connection to his ancestral continent makes him feel as if he had “built his hut near the Congo and it lulled him to sleep” (Hughes 5). This passion for his ethnic background was one of the driving...

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