hello february…

only 38 days until africa! i think i should be looking into vaccines, and start really planning some “to see/do” lists for once we arrive.

it’s february, one of my favorite months. my father’s birthday is this month, the v-day is officially this month -but in my world “everyday’s the 14th” [outkast], and its black history month.  while i am no longer at beans where bhm was a long-planned month of events – i will be posting little factoids on every one of my february posts related to a historical or current african american figure.

born today: James Mercer Langston Hughes better known as Langston Hughes

my personal connection to the great writer and poet comes through owners of one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle – Kingfish Cafe.  the sisters are not so distant direct relatives of Mr. Hughes, and they were also classmates of mine at University of Washington.

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BIO for Langston Hughes: (courtesy of bio.com)

Poet, writer, playwright. Born February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. After publishing his first poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (1921), he attended Columbia University (1921), but left after one year to work on a freighter, traveling to Africa, living in Paris and Rome, and supporting himself with odd jobs. After his poetry was promoted by Vachel Linday, he attended Lincoln University (1925–9), and while there his first book of poems, The Weary Blues (1926), launched his career as a writer.

As one of the founders of the cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance, which he practically defined in his essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926), he was innovative in his use of jazz rhythms and dialect to depict the life of urban blacks in his poetry, stories, and plays. Having provided the lyrics for the musical Street Scene (1947) and the play that inspired the opera Troubled Island (1949), in the 1960s he returned to the stage with works that drew on black gospel music, such as Black Nativity (1961).

A prolific writer for four decades, he abandoned the Marxism of his youth, but never gave up protesting the injustices committed against his fellow African Americans. Among his most popular creations was Jesse B Semple, better known as “Simple,” a black Everyman featured in the syndicated column he began in 1942 for the Chicago Defender.

In his later years, Hughes completed a two-volume autobiography and edited anthologies and pictorial volumes. Because he often employed humor and seldom portrayed or endorsed violent confrontations, he was for some years disregarded as a model by black writers, but by the 1980s he was being reappraised and was newly appreciated as a significant voice of African-Americans.

 

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