Langston Hughes, February 1, 1902 - May 22, 1967 Langston Hughes, one of the foremost black writers to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance, was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Mo. Hughes briefly attended Columbia University before working numerous jobs including busboy, cook, and steward. While working as a busboy, he showed his poems to American poet Vachel Lindsay, who helped launch his career. He soon obtained a scholarship to Lincoln University and had several works published. Hughes is noted for his depictions of the black experience. In addition to the black dialect, he incorporated the rhythms of jazz and the blues into his poetry. While many recognized his talent, many blacks disapproved of his unflattering portrayal of black life. His numerous published volumes include, "The Weary Blues," "Fine Clothes to the Jew," and "Montage of a Dream Deferred." Hughes earned several awards during his lifetime including: a Guggenheim fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Grant, and a Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. Langston Hughes died of heart failure on May 22, 1967.
Charles R. Smith Jr. is an award-winning author, photographer, and poet with more than thirty books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem "My People" and a Coretta Scott King Honor for his biography on Muhammad Ali, 12 Rounds to Glory . He is the author of Rimshots , Hoop Kings , Hoop Queens , Tall Tales , Short Takes , Diamond Life , and I Am America . Charles brings his love of basketball and baseball right down to the toddler set in Let's Play Basketball! and Let's Play Baseball! His recent work celebrates subjects he's been interested in since he was a kid, such as The Mighty 12 , which honors Greek gods and goddesses. He currently lives in Poughkeepsie, New York, with his wife, Gillian, and their three kids.