Student Activity

A Teacher's Guide on Langston Hughes

Portait of Langston Hughes by Winold Reiss, 1927
Photo caption

Portait of Langston Hughes by Winold Reiss, 1927

"Listen, America--
I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you."

—Langston Hughes, "Let America Be America Again" (1936)

Since 1995, Rhode Islanders have come together each February to read and celebrate the life of one of America's finest poets and writers, Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Made possible through a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the annual Langston Hughes Poetry Reading is a shining example of what public humanities can pass on to communities far and wide. This Teacher's Guide includes performances recorded in Providence, access to NEH supported projects dedicated to the work of Langston Hughes, and classroom ready materials for teaching his poetry.

Background on Langston Hughes

"An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose."

Langston Hughes National Poetry Project: This comprehensive website was supported by the NEH and is maintained by the University of Kansas. 

Langston Hughes Center: Founded in 1998 at the University of Kansas, this is an academic research and educational center for all things Langston Hughes. Biography and collection of thirteen poems written by Langston Hughes. 

Voices and Visions: This biography page on Langston Hughes offers video and audio resources along with links to other resources suitable for student research.

Modern American Poetry: This site provides a collection of Hughes' poems and accompanying criticism to assist with analysis and interpretation.  

Langston Hughes 101: A collection of poems, biographical information, and criticism created by the Poetry Foundation

Jazz Poetry & Langston Hughes: A video of Hughes discussing his poem "The Weary Blues" and discussion of his work created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute: This Seattle institution hosts programming, educational workshops, and events that carry on the spirit of Langston Hughes. 

Poetry of Langston Hughes

The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1921)

Mother to Son (1922)

The Weary Blues (1925)

Po' Boy Blues (1926)

I, Too (1926)

Dream Variations (1926)

    Let America Be America Again (1936)

    Dust Bowl (1941)


    "Jazz as Communication" (1958)

    Rhode Island's Annual Poetry Reading

    “Langston helped me understand things my parents had said...through Langston, I discovered myself.”

    ~ Dr. Renee T. White, Provost of Wheaton College

    Video: 2017 Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading in Providence, Rhode Island (video created by Ian Faria). 

    Article: Community Gathers in Honor of Langston Hughes

    Article: Providence woman is guiding force behind annual Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading

    Article: Happy Birthday, Langston: The Community Celebrates with a Reading

    Article: In Conversations--Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading

    Rhode Island Council for the Humanities