Carrie Langston Hughes was an adept speaker and performer. She was a strong advocate for women’s suffrage, women’s rights, and the rights of African Americans. Born in Lawrence, Kansas, her father was a prosperous farmer and the son of a slave woman both of American Indian and African descent. He was an ardent abolitionist and follower of John Brown.
Her older brother was a post-emancipation congressman and became a prominent figure, going on to serve as Minister to Haiti and Dean of Howard University’s Law School.
Carrie dreamed of being an actress and wanted to pursue a career in the theater. However, she was often limited by the restrictions placed on nineteenth-century black women. At fifteen, she became the Belle of Black Society in Lawrence. At eighteen, she was publicly reading papers she had written and recruiting original poems. Her writings were aimed at Midwestern black men who maintained strict ideas about a woman’s place in society. She encouraged the participation of black women in politics and spoke publicly to women in journalism and conventions.
In 1901, she gave birth to Langston Hughes in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was young, and he spent most of his childhood in the home of his maternal grandmother Mary Patterson Langston in Lawrence, Kansas. It was her that instilled in her grandson a lasting sense of racial pride. After the death of his grandmother, Hughes went to live again with his mother in Lincoln, Illinois. While in grammar school in Lincoln, he was elected class poet. They later moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he went to Central High School.
Hughes became a prolific writer at an early age. In 1924, Hughes moved to Washington, D.C., to live with his mother. He gained employment in 1925 as a personal assistant to historian Carter G. Woodson at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. His earlier work had been published in magazines and was about to be collected into his first book of poetry. He met poet Vachel Lindsay, who was impressed by Hughes and publicized his discovery of a new black poet.
He moved to New York City as a young man and started studying at Columbia University. He dropped out but got noticed by New York publications like The Crisis Magazine and then by book publishers. He became known in the creative community in Harlem. Langston Hughes became a well-known writer and poet, and his writings contributed to the Harlem Renaissance literary movement. His writings depicted the life of black people in America during the 1920s and 1960s.
His poetry, plays, and essays gave a unique perspective on the black experience. His poetry incorporated jazz rhythms, dialect, and the black experience. From 1942 to 1962, he wrote an in-depth weekly column in a leading black newspaper, The Chicago Defender, as the civil rights movement was gaining traction.
Hughes also translated several works of poetry by Federico Garcia Lorca and Gabriela Mistral and was well-known for his comic character Simple, which appeared in his columns in the Chicago Defender and in his books and stage performances. In 1994, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes was published. In addition to poems, Hughes also wrote a popular autobiography, The Big Sea, and several works of prose.
Langston Hughes’ work focuses on black working-class life in America. His poems depict their struggles and triumphs and show wit and intelligence. He wrote poetry that reflects the black human condition while at the same time celebrating the dream of equality in America. The powerful themes of the poems are deeply personal, yet they are written in simple language and free verse.
The neighborhood is home to several trains, including the Burlington Northern Santa Fe RR. Nearby roads include State Hwy D, E Lynn St, and E Stanford St. The neighborhood is also accessible via US Hwy 60 and the limited-access Highway 413.
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