Guide to Hughes

Langston Hughes 2 I N T R O D U C T I O N
In Langston Hughes’s landmark essay, “Th e Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” fi rst published in Th e Nation in 1926, he writes, “An artist must be free
to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he must choose.” Freedom of creative expression, whether personal or collective, is one of the many legacies of Hughes, who has been called “the architect” of the black poetic tradition. He is certainly one of the world’s most universally beloved poets, read by children and teachers, scholars and poets, musicians and historians. Langston Hughes became the voice of black America in the 1920s, when his fi rst published poems brought him more than moderate success. Th roughout his lifetime, his work encompassed both popular lyrical poems, and more controversial political work, especially during the thirties. He expressed a direct and sometimes even pessimistic approach to race relations, and he focused his poems primarily on the lives of the working class. When he writes that an artistmust be unafraid, in “Th e Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” he is not only defending the need for his own work, but calling forth the next generation of poets, not only giving them permission to write
about race, but charging them with the responsibility of writing about race. free ebook
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