This Day in Black History: May 22, 1967

This Day in Black History: May 22, 1967

Poet, playwright and columnist Langston Hughes died in New York City.

Published May 22, 2014

Poet, playwright and columnist Langston Hughes died of complications resulting from prostate cancer on May 22, 1967, in New York City. He was 65. Hughes is considered by many scholars to be the leading force behind the Harlem Renaissance movement in the 1920s and ’30s. Born Feb. 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, his work was notably influenced by the burgeoning jazz and blues music scenes in Harlem. He wrote about the shared experiences of Blacks in America, while including his personal experiences from his travels to Mexico, Europe and Africa as well.

Between the 1920s and 1960s, Hughes published more than a dozen books of poetry and short stories. His first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published in 1926, and his first novel, Not Without Laughter, won the Harmon gold medal for literature in 1930. He also penned 11 plays, including Mule Bone (1930), which he co-wrote with fellow Renaissance leader Zora Neale Hurston. Hughes is also celebrated for his works of prose in his popular “Simple” books, including Simple Speaks His Mind  and Simple's Uncle Sam.

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(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Written by Britt Middleton


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