Langston Hughes was one of the most prominent black poets of the Harlem Renaissance. His accomplishments include publishing his first poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," to critical acclaim; winning several major literary awards for his poems, plays, short stories and novels; founding theaters; teaching at universities; and being a major contributor to the Harlem Renaissance and helping to shape American literature.
Langston Hughes was born on Feb. 1, 1902. His first major poem was published in 1921, shortly after he graduated from high school, in a popular African-American magazine, "Crisis." He went on to win first prize in another magazine's literary competition in 1925 for his poem, "The Weary Blues."
Hughes published his first book of poetry in 1926 and was recognized for his use of black themes and jazz rhythms in his work. He went on to publish several more successful books of poetry, plays and short stories.
He won the Harmon gold medal for literature in 1930 for his first novel, "Not Without Laughter." Hughes was given a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935, a Rosenwald Fellowship in 1941 and an honorary doctorate of letters from Lincoln University in 1943.
In 1946 Hughes was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He was also awarded the Ansfield-Wolf Book award in 1954 and the Springarn Medal in 1960 for outstanding achievement by a black American. Hughes also taught at Atlanta University and the University of Chicago and opened theaters in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. He died in 1967.