Langston Hughes: 10 Facts

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Langston Hughes – a leader of the Harlem Renaissance and a great poet, activist, novelist and playwright – died 46 years ago today. In his memory, we offer 10 facts about his life and career.

1. Born in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes was largely raised by his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas, after his parents separated. Mary Patterson Langston instilled in her grandson a sense of racial pride and a love for activism.

2. Hughes entered Columbia University and, at his father’s insistence, studied engineering instead of writing. Hughes ultimately didn’t earn a degree from Columbia – after just a year, he left the university, citing racial prejudice there – but while in New York he did learn something that would perhaps serve him even better – he discovered Harlem.

3. Though Columbia wasn’t right for Hughes, he did earn a bachelor’s degree. After spending several years in Europe, Hughes enrolled in…

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