Langston Hughes: The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual, social, and artistic eruption located in Harlem, New York that was primarily a new form of African-American expression. Langston Hughes, a poet during the Harlem Renaissance, was instrumental in the success of this movement and was a master of self-expression. Not only a bright light leading this development, Hughes took a stand for black art and greatly impacted how the Harlem Renaissance would be remembered. He was a protector of the black community in the 1920s to 1930s and defended the works of so many artists. Langston Hughes was so influential in his writing and within his community because he was unafraid to make people uncomfortable in order to stand up for what was just and right. George Schuyler, an editor of a black newspaper in Pittsburgh, wrote “The Negro Art Hokum” in 1926, essentially discrediting Negro art, arguing that many ideas were taken from European art, and that black artists were basically copying their white counterparts. Black art was dubbed as folk art. Quick to make a response, Hughes described many black artists as rejecting their identity, scared to create true art because of their skin tone. He then invited black artists to not be ashamed, but to celebrate and embrace their color. Furthermore, Langston Hughes used his experiences internationally to harness pride and give people insight and the opportunity to see a different perspective. He traveled the world as a sailor, meeting new people and having different jobs. Hughes continued to face discrimination overseas, where often white sailors would be chosen for jobs instead of him. This inspired him to write some of his most powerful poetry. Hughes continued to spread the message of the Harlem Renaissance long after it was over, advocating for black artists and spreading self-love. He was one of the most influential people of this time period and is still continuously talked about because of his amazing work.

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