Emerging during the Harlem Renaissance to great acclaim and controversy, Langston Hughes was one of the most important literary voices of the 20th century.

At a time when the Black intelligentsia stressed “talented tenths” and “putting our best foot forward,” Hughes’ work was steeped in the experiences of the the working class, and was a celebration of our nuances and complexities. He believed in the idea that “black is beautiful” at a time where it was very controversial to do so.

But I’m sure you knew that already. So we won’t bore you with an overwrought biography.

Instead, honor his legacy today by checking out a few of his classic poems below, read by the man himself.


“I, Too”


“The Negro Speaks of Rivers”


“Weary Blues”


What is your favorite Langston Hughes poem?

Sound off below!