James Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, but lived with his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas, and subsequently more than half his life. His mother was a schoolteacher, she furthermore wrote poetry. His father, James Nathaniel Hughes, was a storekeeper. His father, James had wanted to become a lawyer, but he had been denied to take the bar exam. Hughes's parents separated and his mother moved from city to city in search of work. During his peripatetic childhood, Hughes lived in Mexico, Topeka, Kansas, Colorado, Indiana and Buffalo. Part of his childhood Hughes lived with his grandmother, Mary Sampson Patterson Leary Langston she was prominent known in the African American community in Lawrence. Her first husband had died at Harper's Ferry fighting with John Brown, her second husband, Langston Hughes's grandfather, was a prominent Kansas politician during Reconstruction.
During the time Hughes lived with his grandmother, however, she was old and poor and unable to give Hughes the attention he needed.
Besides, Hughes felt hurt by both his mother and his father, and was unable to understand why he was not allowed to live with either of them. These feelings of rejection caused him to grow up very insecure and unsure of himself. At the age of 13 he moved back with his mother and her second husband. Later the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Hughes's stepfather worked in the steel mills. During this period Hughes found the poems of Carl Sandbury, whose unrhymed free verse influenced him on a profound effect. After graduating from a high school in Cleveland, Hughes spent a year in Mexico with his light-skinned father, who had found there a release as a successful cattle rancher from racism of the North.
When Langston Hughes's grandmother died, his mother summoned him to her home in...