Langston Hughes: A Poet’s Life
Langston went to live with his dad when he was 17. His dad lived in Mexico. This was a sad time in his life. Langston and his dad did not get along. His dad did not want Langston to write poems. His dad had a lot of shame about being black. But Langston was proud. He wrote poems to tell other black people to feel proud, too. One example is a poem called “My People.”
The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.
The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.
Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.
– from “My People” in The Crisis (October 1923)
After high school, Langston went to university to study science. His wish was to study English. But his dad would not let him. A lot of people at university treated him badly because he was black. So Langston dropped out after two years. Then he went to work. He was a cook. He washed clothes. He worked on a ship. He also worked as a busboy at a hotel. He cleaned tables and dishes. But he still dreamed of being a poet.