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Langston Hughes: Writer & Poet

American poet and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902 to a family of abolitionists. After high school, Hughes went on to Columbia University to study engineering, but soon dropped out to pursue his first love — poetry. He never looked back.

The poetry Hughes crafted over the course of his lifetime was filled with rhythm and beat. His stanzas weave wildly smooth tunes about life as a black American. Indeed, Hughes always acknowledged that his primary poetic influences were the blues bars of Harlem and D.C.

I, too, sing America
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed --

I, too, am America.

(From Jeff Trussell’s, Poet Hero: Langston Hughes, Then.