James Langston Hughes (1902–1967)
Renowned Harlem poet, playwright and gay icon, Hughes was only the second Black American to make a living as a writer.
His poetic work incorporated elements of the Afro-American spirituals and blues music that were a key memory of his early childhood.
Sometimes travelling and resident in Mexico City, Paris, several African port cities and Russia, Hughes was also – during an era in which the USA tried to secede itself from global politics – one of only a handful of active writers bringing literary ideas from non-American cultures to an American audience.
In 1991, his remains were cremated and interred by Maya Angelou beneath the Schomburg Research Center for Black Culture in Harlem, in gratitude for his pioneering work in Black literature.