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Sandy Mitchell

Black History Month: Langston Hughes

By February 1, 2014

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February is Black History month and it's fitting to spend this month looking at some of Cleveland's African-American favorite sons. Among the most prolific is writer, poet, and playwright Langston Hughes, who spent a portion of his youth in Cleveland and who graduated from Cleveland's Central High School.

Hughes, born on this day in 1902, was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. He also spent a time with the Paris expatriate community between the wars, with such writers as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Perhaps his greatest contribution to the Cleveland community was his collaboration with Karamu House founders, Russell and Rowena Jeliffe. He wrote several plays for the young theater company, including the "Black Nativity," which is still performed each holiday season and has become a Cleveland tradition.

Hughes influenced two generations of young Black writers, among them James Baldwin and Alice Walker, whom Hughes "discovered." He died in 1967.

(Photo: Library of Congress/Public Domain)

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