This segment from A Walk Through Harlem presents the poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” written by Langston Hughes in 1922 when he was eighteen years old. Born in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes traveled to New York City by the 1920s to become a part of an exciting arts and culture movement called the Harlem Renaissance. He later became known as the "poet laureate of Harlem." Hughes was one of the first African American writers who wrote about the authentic experiences of his people reflecting their pain, suffering, humor, creativity, and joy. He often was inspired by music and incorporated it into his poetry. Hughes made substantial artistic contributions to the Harlem Renaissance and holds an important place in American literature.
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