Langston Hughes was a poet and author whose work using African-American themes made him one of the primary contributors to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. He also found fame as a social activist, playwright and columnist for the Chicago Defender.
The work of Hughes was an influential part of the Harlem Renaissance alongside contemporaries such as Aaron Douglas and Zora Neale Hurston. His aim was to depict the real lives of black people who fell into the lower socioeconomic classes and to speak out against prejudice based on skin color. Along with his peers, he wrote a manifesto titled "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" in 1926. The most famous poem by Langston Hughes is "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," a quote from which appears in on the inscription marking the interment of his ashes in Harlem.