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Celebrating the Poetry of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902. He was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. Hughes’s poems gave voice to an entire generation of African Americans and their experiences, feelings, thoughts, and dreams.

In the NCTE text Langston Hughes in the Classroom: “Do Nothin’ till You Hear from Me” Carmaletta M. Williams provides high school teachers with background on Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance as well as help in teaching Hughes’s poetry, short stories, novels, and autobiography.

In this lesson plan, through a study of Langston Hughes’ poetry, students connect his writing to his place in history.

Read Langston Hughes’s poem “Dreams.” Each stanza of the poem is one sentence, and each sentence contains a metaphor for a dream. Brainstorm some other metaphors for dreams that Hughes might have considered for his poem.

Learn more about “The Process of Langston Hughes” in this blog post, including links to primary sources from the Library of Congress.

Did you know? Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City.

Curious about the NCTE and Library of Congress connection? Through a grant announced recently by NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick, NCTE is engaged in new ongoing work with the Library of Congress, and “will connect the ELA community with the Library of Congress to expand the use of primary sources in teaching.” Stay tuned for more throughout the year!

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