Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Poet, story-writer and dramatist, he was a major influence in the negro literary movement of the Twenties. He tried his hand at virtually every form of literature. After starting writing poems in the conventional form, he experimented with free verse, adapting the rhythms of Afro-American music to poetry. The themes of his works range from his own negritude to racial protest, expressing the aspirations and frustrations of Negroes in an American that still discriminate them.
Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902. His parents separated shortly after he was born and his father moved to Mexico. Up to the age of 18 he lived with his mother, but, after graduating from High School, he went to stay his father, a man whose only interest was making money. Their relationship proved quite difficult and soon ended in separation. After a year at Columbia University in New York City, Hughes decided to stop studying and started touring the world.
In 1923 he went to Africa, as if returning to his motherland. But, disappointed by the hostile reaction of the Africans, who saw the American in him more than the African, he left Africa and spent some time in Paris, where he worked as a waiter in nightclubs. After returning to America he resumed his studies and, in 1929, graduated from Lincoln University, Pensylvania. Meanwhile, he had started writing and publishing, thus contributing to the Harlem Renaissance.
He continued his travels, and also visited the Soviet Union. In the 1930s he founded and directed the Harlem Suitcase Theater, for which he even designed a revolutionary central stage with the audience all around it. He died in 1967.