Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. He lived with his mother, Carrie Hughes and his grandmother, Mrs. Mary Leary Langston. His father, James Hughes, had left home for Mexico when Langston was a baby. He felt that his potential in the United States was limited because he was black. When Langston was five years old he, his mother and grandmother left their home in Lawrence, Kansas to join James Hughes in Mexico. The visit did not last long. An earthquake destroyed the city and Carrie Hughes decided she and her son and mother could not live safely there. So, shortly after arriving in Mexico the three returned home. Langston did not get the chance to visit with his father and get to know him. His father did make his mother promise that Langston would return to Mexico when he was older.
When Langston was seventeen he did go back to Mexico to live with his father.
At his father's urging Langston took up bookkeeping. His father insisted he work constantly. This left Langston little time to write. After working a difficult schedule under his difficult father Langston got sick and returned home. He began writing again. He carried his notebook everywhere. He wrote in all his spare moments. After a few years Langston returned to Mexico. He wanted to go to college. Langston's father wanted him to study in Europe where skin color was not such an issue. Langston wanted to go to Columbia University. He and his father reached a compromise. Langston would attend Columbia, but study engineering. It was the early 1920's and Harlem, New York was fast becoming the place for young writers and performers of color to meet and share their talents.
Most of Langston's writing is focused around...