Poet, novelist, journalist, playwright, essayist, and songwriter: all of these words describe a man who is said to be one of the twentieth century's most respected and often controversial writers. This man's main mission was to help enlighten people on the racial issues that were before them (Berry 5). At that time, this man was only the second black person to make a living as a writer (Harper 5). His name was Langston Hughes, and he crossed numerous racial barriers and gained widespread popularity while criticizing racism. Shaped by his parents, childhood, and life experiences, Langston Hughes became one of the most influential Black Americans of his time. .
Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, to James and Carrie Hughes. James Hughes had a law degree, but was unable to maintain a law practice because of racism. Carrie Hughes, a prominent activist in the Abolitionist Movement, had big dreams of becoming an actress, but her dreams were as well crushed by racism. Instead of keeping to their dreams, his parents had to settle for whatever job they could find. Hughes" father, being frustrated with job opportunities, moved to Mexico when his son was not even two years-old. His mother then moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where Hughes" grandmother, Mary Langston, lived. While his mother moved from town to town in search of work, Hughes spent his time with his grandmother, from whom he learned self-confidence. He learned from her how to endure many things, including hardships, without losing his pride and dignity (Berry 7). At the age of twelve, his grandmother died and he went to live with his mother in Lincoln, Illinois, where he attended high school. He was there elected class poet where he wrote a poem for graduation ceremonies and got such an applause from them that he decided to become a poet. Many in his school where immigrants therefore there were few racial conflicts.