The Harlem Of Langston Hughes

Kody Kindle

ENG 131

Professor Lucas

17 NOV 15

The Harlem of Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes was a massive role model to African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Born on February 1st, 1902, Hughes was always someone that brought great ideas to the table and always wanted to make a difference. Hughes was raised mainly by his grandmother due to the fact that his Mom was mainly searching for jobs on and off and his father left him at an early age.

What really put Langston Hughes on the map was his love and creativity for poetry and music. Known as one of the earliest inventors in Jazz Poetry, Hughes created a whole new art form that caught people’s eyes instantly. Most poetry he created was involved with the living conditions with the African-American at the time and how it was going well during that time period. During the Harlem Renaissance people were very joyful. Music and art was gaining a lot of fame.

The reason for me writing about Langston Hughes was my interest in him after learning about him back in high school. Although I have never been big into poetry or jazz but I was inspired by the amount of lives he changed. Even today in modern music and poetry many artist will trace their inspiration and creativity back to Langston Hughes. I figured Langston Hughes would be a good topic to write about because of the effect he made on people who wrote poetry.


Chasar, Mike. “The Sounds of Black Laughter and the Harlem Renaissance: Claude McKay, Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes.” American Literature 80.1 (2008): 57-81. Online Copy

In this small article written by Mike Chasar, he discusses the form of African American comedy that emerged with respect to African American authors such as Hughes.  The author is going in depth about how Hughes revolutionized comedy and how the new comedy has contributed to the African American society. Mike Chasars audience would primarily be aimed toward the readers of his own racial descent. Throughout the article, Chasar emphasizes the contribution from other authors and their effect on the particular type of comedy.

The article “The Sounds of Black Laughter and the Harlem Renaissance: Claude McKay, Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes.” is a reliable source. It discusses topics that are relatable due to Langston Hughes being a large part of the discussion. This article is full of factual evidence and shows no bias or slant information.

Davis, Arthur P. “The Harlem of Langston Hughes’ Poetry.” Phylon 13.4 (1952): 276-283 Online Copy

This is an article written by a Arthur P. Davis, a student attending Clark Atlanta University. Davis openly claims that Langston Hughes is the poet-laureate of Harlem. He then continues to explain how Langston loved the city of Harlem and how Hughes depicts the hopes, aspirations, frustrations, and the deep-seated discontent of the New York ghetto. He is expressing the feelings of Negroes in black ghettos throughout the country. Davis states,” The Harlem of The Weary Blues became therefore for him ‘Jazzonia,’ a new world of escape and release, an exciting never-never land in which “sleek black boys” blew their hearts out on silver trumpets in a “whirling cabaret.” It was a place where the bold eyes of white girls called to black men, and “dark brown girls” were found ‘in blind man’s arms’(277). The cited text show great emphasis on how closely related Hughes was to the “dark” Harlem. The description of the city of Harlem being dark was due to the fact that there is no day-time in “Jazzonia”. The lack of jobs and racism ate away at the daytime hours and turned a world of brightness into a dark alley filled with hate and wrong assumptions. Davis claims the city of Harlem is a wholly, sundown city, illuminated by soft lights, spotlights, jewel-eyed sparklers, and synthetic stars in the scenery. Daylight is the one great enemy here, and when “the new dawn / Wan and pale / Descends like a white mist and it brings only an “aching emptiness.”(277) He is revitalizing the people of Harlem from the depression by way of music and dancing in cabarets.

Arthur P. Davis’s article is reliable, current, and definitely relevant to my topic about Hughes and the revitalization of heritage and jazz and blues. Although, there is some added consideration to the opinions from the collegiate writer. Within the pages of this article, the author puts forth a clear format to someone who might want to express how Langston Hughes was a part of the Harlem Renaissance, and does a great job at bringing detail to the way of life that was experienced during this period.

Dawahare, Anthony. “Langston Hughes’s Radical Poetry and the “End of Race”.” Melus 23.3 (1998): 21-41.  Online Copy

This article is written by Anthony Dawahare who attends California State University. Throughout this article Anthony writes about the challenges Hughes undergoes during the construction, emergence, and ultimate hegemony of nationalism in the years following World War I. Dawahare states that “The relevance of post-war nationalism to Hughes’s poetry is found in its effect on him and many black intellectuals in and around Harlem during the 1920’s”(24-25). The purpose is that Hughes’s writing has a profound effect on black residents of Harlem in the 1920’s. The author is emphasizing that post-war nationalism has a large effect on Hughes’s writing style, which in turn reflects the effects and dramatization to his readers. Living during times of war has been known to have large effects on the styles and ideas of writers throughout history.

The cited source by Anthony is a useful article that shows some of the effects from everyday life that shaped Langston Hughes work to have an effect on black individuals in Harlem in the 1920’s.

Hughes, Langston. “The Negro artist and the racial mountain.” The Nation 122.23 (1926): 692-694.  Online Copy

This is an essay written by Langston Hughes in 1926. In the essay he urges black intellectuals and artists to break free of the artificial standards set for them by the white americans. Hughes is tired and embarrassed of the negro poet that stated , “I want to be a poet–not a Negro poet,” hinting that he meant “I want to write like a white poet”; which subconsciously meaning, “I would like to be a white poet” which in turn came to mean “I would like to be white.” (692) Hughes states that there is a mountain between this that will haunt them, that he is unsure if it will ever be climbed. He feels that middle class blacks live to be as much American as they can, and as much little Negro possible. Hughes feels that black people are trying to be white and use white living, thinking, and doing as their basis of virtues. The author emphasizes that to be a Negro artist is something to be proud of! “To these the Negro artist can give his racial individuality, his heritage of rhythm and warmth, and his incongruous humor that so often, as in the Blues, becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears”(693). Hughes wants to exemplify that he is black and he is extremely proud to be. He doesn’t want to live the dull Nordic life of a white and lives life through the love of jazz music, as he says “But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul–the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile. He wants everyone to know that if the white people look down on the religious and musical life of a lower class Negro, he is okay with it.

This essay is an extremely valid piece of work and is extremely pertinent to my topic. This essay shows the true characteristics of jazz poetry, and it shows how Hughes is reclaiming and revitalizing the lower class African American heritage by way of blues and jazz.

Hughes, Langston. “When the Negro was in Vogue.” The Language of Literature: American Literature (1940): 933-36. Online Copy

This is an essay by Langston Hughes’s depicting the life of Manhattan’s black renaissance in the 1920’s.  The author’s purpose in writing this is to emphasize how live entertainment such as plays and musical revues played an important role in the life of a negro of the Harlem Renaissance.  The audience is geared to African Americans. The Harlem shows became show nights for Nordics. Hughes’s assumes that live entertainment attracts white Nordics and slightly bettered the terms of racial segregation and Jim Crow Laws.

This article is showing how Hughes is reclaiming and revitalizing the lower class African American heritage. It is extremely reliable knowing that it came from Langston Hughes’s himself. He is showing how the development of nightlife shaped the Harlem Renaissance and how he wrote about the parties and clubs.

Johnson, Patricia A., and Walter C. Farrell. “How Langston Hughes Used the Blues.” Melus 6.1 (1979): 55-63

“Langston Hughes became one of the most innovative voices in American poetry and the first poet in the world to transform the idioms of blues and jazz into poetic verse.” (55).  The overall purpose of the article written by Johnson and Farrell was to show how Hughes renovated the world of blues and jazz music.  The audience of this article would anyone who listens to blues and jazz. The authors emphasize how Hughes’s importance in the transformation of blues and jazz into modern day.  “Negro writers can seek to unite whites and blacks in our country, not on the nebulous basis of an interracial meeting…”(56)

This article is extremely and does not show any slant or bias in it. The evidence in the text clearly supports the author’s main points of how Langston Hughes’s incorporated jazz and blues into the Harlem Renaissance.


My zombie, Myself

Reading “My Zombie, Myself” really confused me, I was unsure how it all tied into technology. I wasn’t able to attend any of the speaking’s Chuck Klosterman was at so I guess I didn’t really get a chance to hear him explain it. In the writing he started talking about how much fame zombies have been starting to get and how in some ways they are starting to take over some of the entertainment segments. Although I was confused about the connecting to technology I was very interested in the argument on how zombies are gaining a lot more fame than vampires. Chuck Klosterman makes very valid points in his argument and even supports them with facts like the number of views shows are starting to tally in. I have always been a huge fan of shows like The Walking Dead, and movies that deal with zombies. Even though they might they aren’t very realistic, they always keep the audience entertained because you never really know what’ going to happen and I think that’s why Klosterman decided to write this.

Jeff Hobbs

Going to see Jeff Hobbs speak was a very intellectual experience, I learned things about the book that I didn’t get to while reading. Jeff took about an hour or so going into thorough detail about Robert peace, his teen life, college life, and friendship between the two. Towards the end, when people started asking questions was to me, the best part because people asked questions that weren’t addressed in the book, like, what all Robert peace taught Jeff Hobbs, the impact he left on kids going through what he is going, and much more. This was the first time I went to writers series and I found it to be very helpful, the writers put things in a perspective that makes it easier for us to understand. The things he addressed really opened my eyes to the life that some kids live and made me unbelievably grateful for what I have.

Having a Stanger as a Roommate

One of the most terrifying things in your freshman year of college is wondering how well you and your roommate, whom you’ve may have never met before will get along. In “A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger” by Anna Altman, she explains how having a roommate that you’ve never met before can actually be helpful for many reasons, whether it be meeting new friend groups or just learning how to adapt to different personalities. While reading this, I agreed thoroughly with the author because that I am currently rooming with someone that I never had met before this school year. Rooming with a stranger in my opinion has been a great experience for me because I have learned numerous of things that I didn’t know before and many things about the different religious and cultural beliefs that are included in my roommate’s life. My roommate is from New York which is on the opposite side of the country as me. We have different favorite teams in sports, different taste of music, and much more but, we find ways to meet in the middle and come to an agreement. Altman states that “Who you live with can change your studying habits, influence how much alcohol you drink and encourage (or prevent) weight gain and mood disorders.”

There have been those times where the two roommates would not like each other or not get along which would result in either switching to another room, which would be very time consuming, or even worse, switching college which would cost a fortune. Because of these incidents, many colleges have started using websites like, RoomSync, Roomates, roomster, etc. These websites allow you to select many personal traits that you have and they will attempt to match you with someone as close as possible who is attending the same college. Stephanie Wu states that using websites like these “can limit a freshman’s experience: “It’s easy to find someone with whom you have a mutual friend or you’re from the same hometown or have the same interests.” I agree with Wu, if you room with someone who is just like you or someone that you knew before college, it won’t allow you to branch out and try new things or meet new people. If you get stuck with someone that you don’t have a lot in common with, than you should just stick to talking about the things that you do have common and agree with each other’s differences.

Few Colleges around the country are allowing single roomed opportunities to where if the person doesn’t want a roommate, they don’t need to have one. In my opinion, this choice can make it a lot easier to isolate yourself from other which could lead to things like depression or limited friends. Some people might not mind have limited friends or being by yourself for the year, but who would you go to for help if you needed it? Not many college offer this opportunity because they because they probably don’t agree on it which makes sense.

There are some things unfortunately that having a roommate might not be able to offer. Although having one can allow you to try new things it can’t always help you with your mood. If you are in a sad stage of your life they might not always be able to comfort you.  Olga Khazan says that “Anxious roommates make us more anxious, but unfortunately happy roommates don’t make us happier, while depression was more easily transmitted among men than among women.” It’s not always the roommate’s job to change your mood though, so you can’t be fully dependent on other when you are going through a bad time.

Bruce Sacerdote, while talking to Mr. Signal explained that “This is one of those few times in your life where you may find yourself living with someone who is completely different, That marks a tremendous opportunity for impressionable young people” I agree completely with Sacerdote. Because of how much young adults are influenced by their youth peers, they learn to adapt to new things that they never had before. “Being assigned a roommate of a different race, for example, makes a student ‘more comfortable with interracial interaction.” Mr. Sacerdote says.

All of these points that I’ve stated throughout this essay is why I agree on the why having a roommate in college that you never met before is very important and essential. You may not always get someone who you like, or get along with, but because of that you may learn new lessons or things about life that you never knew. If a student really wanted the chance to pick their roommate, then they shouldn’t be denied it, but I really encourage rooming with someone that they know nothing about. From my experience so far, I have yet to have a problem with it and have actually enjoyed it.

Work Cited

A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger. Anna Altman. 7 sept. 2014. NY Times.

Jacki Shelton Green

In Jaki Shelton Green’s “i know the grandmother one had hands”, she talks about the busy work that grandmothers are entitled to do. The first time reading the poem, I was confused as to what she was referring to when she went through the tasks such as “burying sons”. I was unsure to take it literally or figuratively, until I read the final lines about being in the clouds. In class, we discussed the significance of the lowercase “i”. From the lowercase “i”, we established that it generalized all grandmothers rather than just the author’s. We can also assume, though, that she can relate to all of the experiences she referred to in her poem first hand with her grandmother. From the words that she uses, I believe that she has had mostly, if not all, positive experiences with her grandmother. The end of the poem is, in my opinion, is contradictory because being in the clouds infers happiness, but we associate rain with sadness.