Langston Hughes had become one of the most resounding names in American Literature. Of course, the primary reason for his success would be his adept use of words and the message he wants to convey. However, his racial profile could have also come into play in his popularity. But no one could deny the talent of Hughes in his work. His works display intricate design and a significant message such as on “Salvation.” Langston Hughes had become one of the best-known writers because the messages that he wants to convey are of great value to society, particularly the value of being proud of one’s race.
He was born into a relatively large family wherein he had eight siblings. His parents had separated and he had to be taken in by his grandmother. Unfortunately, his grandmother died and again he had to be taken in by family friends. This unstable custody of Langston Hughes could direct us to the assumption that he did not live a happy childhood. It could lead us to the assumption that his unstable childhood had profoundly influenced him to be a writer later in life.
At a very young age, Langston Hughes was seemingly being trained unknowingly by the people around them. As a child, he used to listen to the black American oral tradition of storytelling. His young mind was inculcated with the value of race to an individual. As the young Langston Hughes develops consciousness about the things that are happening around him, he is introduced to the bitter realities of life. During Hughes’ time, racism is a prevalent problem in society. This aspect of his biography is one of the most likely reasons why Langston Hughes had become a writer. His passion to fight racism is one of the main driving forces of his writings. His first poem was titled “Crisis”, which was published in 1921. (Ostrom, 221)
The concept of salvation had captivated the mind of Langston Hughes. And concerning his writing, he may have wanted to convey how people like him, who experience racism, experience real salvation. His works seemingly suggest that salvation could be found from within one’s self. His messages for the young people are seemingly a call for being saved from the oppression set against them by society.
If Langston Hughes did not become a writer, he would likely have become a full-time activist against racial discrimination. His concern for society, especially for Black Americans is something that even he could not dismiss easily.
One of his best-known works is on the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” From the title alone, the readers are already hinted that this poem would be about race, as hinted by the term “Negro.” Although there could be multiple readings about the poem, the point is that it is a beautiful poem. Hughes may have wanted to tell the world that Black Americans are just as good as any race in terms of poetry. The poem is like Hughes’ statement that dares racists to say to question if Black Americans could write beautiful poems.
All in all, Langston Hughes had become of the best-known writers because he had become the voice for the underrepresented black community. In many respects, he had introduced the black community to the world.
Ostrom, Hans. A Langston Hughes Encyclopedia. Westport: Greenwood Press. 2002.