The Tragedy of Langston Hughes and a Warning I Will Heed

It’s Black History Month. The biggest book in my entire library is The Norton Anthology: African American Literature. It has 2,665 pages. Flop it open to the middle (like Psalms in the Bible) and you land on Langston Hughes—1902-1967.

In 1926, he wrote what became a manifesto for black artists of the time, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.”

We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. . . . We know we are beautiful. And ugly too.

One of his best known and earliest poems is “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,”...

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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.