Langston Hughes: A Poet’s Life

Chapter 3

The painting "a ride for liberty" by Eastman Johnson"
Race to freedom

Charles Langston wanted all black people to be free. So he helped slaves run away from their owners. Charles helped slaves get to Canada, where they would be free. He was put in jail for this. But in 1865, the USA made a law that said no one could own a slave ever again. Black people still could not go to school with white people. Black people still could not eat in restaurants with white people. Black people still could not vote. So Charles set up schools for black people. He also helped black people win the right to vote. Langston may have been thinking of Charles when he wrote these words:

I tire so of hearing people say,

Let things take their course.

Tomorrow is another day.

I do not need my freedom when I am dead.

I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

– from “Democracy

Charles Langston fell in love with a woman named Mary. They had a daughter named Carrie. Carrie was the mother of our poet.


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