Your grandfather fought alongside John Brown and was killed in the struggle to free slaves.
Also, your uncle John Mercer Langston was the first black person to be elected to Congress.
Education for Langston
James Mercer Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri, during segregation. When Langston was very little his parents divorced and went to find jobs, leaving him with his grandma. His grandma told him stories of black heroes and took him to see Booker T. Washington.
Legacy and Death
In elementary school, Langston was elected class poet. Later, he went to Columbia University where his dad made him study engineering. Langston quit after one year. Then, he traveled to Africa and Europe working as cook and dishwasher to pay his expenses. During that time he wrote and sent poetry back to the U.S. Eventually, Langston went back to college at Lincoln University, one of the only colleges to allow black students, where he he studied literature.
Jesse B. Semple
When Langston was working as a busboy at a restaurant he met Vachel Lindsay. He showed some of his poems to her. Vachel was impressed and brought Langston's poetry to bigger audience. While he was at Lincoln, Langston's poetry was recognized by Carl Van Vechen who helped Langston write his first poetry book in 1927. After Langston graduated from Lincoln, he continued writing poetry. Langston also wrote plays and novels.
Langston's work gallery
"The Big Sea"
"The Ways of the White Folk"
Langston Hughes died on May 22, 1967, from cancer. By the time Langston died, he was a great poet and a big contributor to the Harlem Renaissance, a time when African American culture thrived.
Around 1940, Langston Hughes began writing a column in the "The Chicago Defender." In his column he made a cartoon character named "Jesse B. Semple," a black man people referred to as "Simple." People loved his creation, and Jesse B. Semple was featured in some of Langston's books and plays.
Read all about it! Hughes puts in funny short stories starring Jesse B. Semple in the Chicago Defender
In Langston Hughes lifetime he wrote lots of plays and books of poetry. When he just graduated from Lincoln, he wrote a poem called "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" which was published in Crisis magazine. In 1925, Langston's poem "The Weary Blues" won first prize in an Opportunity magazine competition. Later, in 1934 Langston published "The Ways of The White Folk" a collection of short stories.