Raven Woods – Langston Hughes’s “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926)

Placed with permission of the author Raven Woods

In 1926, poet and essayist Langston Hughes wrote a short but stirring piece that became a manifesto for the Harlem Renaissance, the great cultural movement that brought Black art, culture, and music to prominence in American society.  Last spring, when I assigned this essay to one of my American Lit classes, it occurred to me that much of what Hughes wrote in 1926 could also apply to many of the trials and tribulations that Michael Jackson would endure as an African-American artist more than sixty years later. Here is Langston Hughes’s essay. The sections that are highlighted are my emphasis, as these are important points that I will return to later when addressing the essay’s relevance to Michael Jackson:

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