Langston Hughes was an author in the Harlem Renaissance, a movement where African American authors were able to prove themselves as intelligent writers and tell others what they believed in. He was a lead poet in this movement and had the platform to encourage and give advice to other authors. Not only did Hughes use his own writings to share his belief in equal rights, but he was able to have a large influence in the lives of other African American writers and encourage all Americans to stop racial oppression.
Often times, when fighting for their freedom, black writers would try to make themselves look perfect in order to measure up to every other American. Though this is understandable, Langston Hughes asks them to simply be themselves, both through their actions and writings. It was important that they embraced their culture and background, not hide it to “fit in.” While some people listened to him or at least attempted to do so, many continued to do the same thing they had always done because they believed that it would help the fight for freedom. Hughes kept encouraging them, saying, “Perhaps the mission of an artist is to interpret beauty to people – the beauty within themselves.” (Hughes, Life According to Langston Hughes) It is important that people view these writers by their true beauty, not by them trying to be someone they are not.
In all of Hughes’ works, he was careful to display his feelings while encouraging others. In his poem I, Too, Hughes set the story in a dining room. Because of his skin color, he is not allowed to sit at the dinner table when company comes, but he continues to have hope that someday, this will change. Summing up the story, Hughes says, “They’ll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed—I, too, am America.” (Hughes, I, Too) This one quote encompasses everything he believes in. In this short excerpt, Hughes is saying that when there are finally equal rights, white people will realize the value African Americans bring – not only to writing, but to life.
Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes, is a poem written that addresses everyone fighting for their freedom. Written from a mother to her son, it is said, “Don’t you set down on the steps ‘Cause you finds it’s kinder harder. Don’t you fall now – For I’se still goin’, honey, I’se still climbin’, And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” (Hughes, Mother to Son) In the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes played the role of the mother from this poem. He was the one who encouraged other writers to continue to fight for what they believe. Though it may be hard, he knows that it would be worth it in the end. Black rights were important to him, which caused him to not only write about it himself, but to encourage others to do the same.
Langston Hughes knew the importance of telling others about his struggles as an African American. Often times, people of different races, religions, and socioeconomics are oppressed simply because other people do not understand what it is like to live in their shoes. They do not know how they were raised nor the hardships their differences bring. This is why informing others, whether through voice, writing, or any other type of art, is vital. In the days of Hughes, white people didn’t understand everything African Americans had to go through or why their fight for freedom was so important to them. But through Hughes and other writers, they were exposed to the lives of African Americans. They were able to hear their thoughts, struggles at school and home, and their desire to have the opportunity to live like the rest of America. Without people speaking up for what they believe in, there would be little change in our world today. Langston Hughes played a large role in creating equal rights for African Americans and due to his boldness, he was able to convince others to speak up for change, as well.
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