"Black history month spotlight, Renaissance Dreamer: Langston Hughes"

Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes! 10 Quotes From the Master Poet

On this day in 1902, Langston Hughes—poet, playwright, novelist, and leading writer of the Harlem Renaissance—was born. Hughes is revered throughout the world for his extensive literary contributions: his short story collection, The Ways of White Folkand his poetry collection, I, Too, Am America, are some of his most renowned works.

 

"Don't let your dreams die"

image via Jeremy q. butler

He was young at the time of his first foray into writing, and he recalls his introduction to poetry as the result of a racial stereotype. “There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class, and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everyone knows,” Hughes added with a note of irony, “that all Negroes have rhythm, so they elected me the class poet.” At the time, he had no idea of everything his work would become.

In his adulthood, Hughes was a world traveller, enriching himself with trips to Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean. He wrote substantial work while residing in Paris, France. Working a series of odd jobs to support his writing, he earned his B.A. from historically black Lincoln University. Some scholars believe that Hughes was either homosexual or asexual; others believe the world will never know with any certainty. The universal truth remains: Hughes’ legacy is that of a prolific writer, a cultured intellectual, and a voice for freedom everywhere.

 

Langston Hughes happily at a typewriter

Image Via Wdkx radio

Let’s celebrate his life and work with ten of his most powerful quotations:


 

  1. “I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”

 


 

2. “I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.”

 


 

3. “What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode? ”

 


 

4. “Though you may see me holler,
And you may see me cry-
But I’ll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.”

 


 

5. “I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers as ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” 

 


 

6. “Good-morning, Revolution:
You’re the very best friend
I ever had.
We gonna pal around together from now on.”

 


 

7. “When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself.”

 


 

8. “I am so tired of waiting,
Aren’t you,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?”

 


 

9. “Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.”

 


 

10. “I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When the company comes,
But I laugh
And eat well
And grow strong

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When the company comes.”

 


 

FEATURED IMAGE VIA DREAMER ENT