Writers

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Langston Hughes

1901-1967

James Mercer Langston Hughes (1901 – 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. Hughes was born in Missouri. His father abandoned the family soon after the birth. After his parents divorced, he was raised by his maternal grandmother in Kansas as his mother needed to travel for work. When his grandmother died, Hughes lived with family friends for 2 years. Eventually Hughes lived again with his mother after she remarried and settled in Cleveland. There he wrote for his high school newspaper and published his first poetry. One of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry, Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "the Negro was in vogue", which was later paraphrased as "when Harlem was in vogue." In addition to poetry, Hughes wrote plays, and short stories. He also published several non-fiction works. From 1942 to 1962, as the civil rights movement was gaining traction, he wrote an in-depth weekly column in a leading black newspaper, The Chicago Defender.