This Day in Black History: Dec. 11, 1961

Langston Hughes’ musical play “Black Nativity” opened on Broadway at New York City’s Lincoln Theater.

Posted: 12/11/2013 12:15 AM EST

Langston Hughes’ musical play “Black Nativity,” which was notable as a retelling of the classic Christmas story, opened on Broadway on Dec. 11, 1961. It included traditional Christmas carols that were presented in style of American gospel music as well as original songs that were written specifically for the play. It was one of the first plays written by an African-American writer to be performed at that theater.

Hughes, who was born in 1902, was a celebrated American poet as well as a columnist, playwright, novelist and social activist. He was one of the early pioneers of the literary art form known as “jazz poetry.” He is best known for his role as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.  He died in 1967.

The musical was recently adapted into a film version this year and directed by Kasi Lemmons. The film stars Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Jacob Latimore and Vondie Curtis-Hall.

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(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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