Langston Hughes 'The Weary Blues'

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Martin Luther King believed “we may have all come on different ships, but we 're in the same boat now.” This belief of equality inspires millions of people everyday, but before King there was Langston Hughes. Hughes, a poet during the 1920’s, living around the world and supporting African-Americans particularly for equality in America. Hughes is a prolific equality activist, implementing his anger, depression, culture, and oppression in his poems.
Langston Hughes’s family, specifically his father, helped and encouraged Hughes to pursue education and writing. Born on February 1st, 1902 of Carrie Hughes and James Hughes in Joplin, Missouri (Miller). Hughes’s mother worked in Kansas City as an actress and his father practiced law in Mexico ("(James)
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Resulting in anger and sadness because Hughes, like many others, embody their blackness during a time of segregation. Hughes describes the narrator walking down Lenox Avenue while listening to a black pianist carry on a “melancholy tone” (“Blues” 1:17). This sad black pianist symbolizes many African-Americans and how oppression and segregation causes them to have a depressed outlook on life. Hughes symbolically represents segregation by contrasting the pianist’s “ebony hands on each ivory key” (“Blues” 1:9). Potentially this could be a comparison between the old rugged pianist’s ebony hands and the sleek beatiful ivory keys. Also, this comparison indirectly links to the long history of African-American spirituals, christian songs created during days of slavery. Hughes’s use of spirituals “was [the] first of many musical elements in [his] free verse,” (Dace) and is the base of many of his poems. The spirituals allow Hughes to incorporate and connect the same anger and depression that previous African-American generations had to the …show more content…
Extremely rich in culture, Hughes’s poems express hundreds of years of African-American history, especially in his most known poem “The Negro Speaks Of Rivers.” In the poem the narrator descends through history and provides physical detail of the largest and most important rivers in the world. The poet begins with “I’ve known rivers” (“Rivers” 1:1) suggesting the theme of the poem, the importance of specific rivers that played a key role for African-Americans throughout history. The narrator describes physical actions he accomplished at these rivers to represent that time during history. For example, the narrator says “I looked upon the Nile,” (“Rivers” 3:5) the Nile river is the longest river in the world. The narrator makes this connection to the Nile because it is a key part of African-American culture. He also mentions “hear[ing] the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln/ went down to New Orleans” (Rivers “3:8-9). Linking African culture from the past to the new African-American culture, then perhaps Hughes is “suggesting possibly the beginnings of life” (Bolan). This idea correlates well with the birth of African-Americans because they never existed before America was discovered, and with combination of past and present influences have created a whole new culture

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