Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I, Too, Sing America: Langston Hughes bio-documentary

By Kenton Rambsy and Howard Rambsy II

We're looking forward to the bio-doc, “I, Too, Sing America” about the life of African American poet and writer Langston Hughes. The project is being produced by Randal Maurice Jelks, Madison Davis Lacy, Darren Canady, Tess Banion, John Edgar Tidwell, Carmaletta M. Williams, and Elena Lacy. The project is funded, in part, by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

What better place than Lawrence, Kansas, for a bio-documentary about Hughes? Even though most people are familiar with Hughes as a Harlem Renaissance writer living in New York City, he spent a considerable amount of his childhood in Lawrence. There are many notable landmarks that still exist in Kansas that are intimately connected to Hughes’s coming of age experiences in Lawrence.

Born in Missouri in 1902, Hughes moved to Lawrence as a small child. He lived with his grandmother at 736 Alabama Street until he was thirteen. In his autobiography, The Big Sea, Hughes mentioned having to go to church every Sunday with Auntie Reed. St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church, built in 1910, still stands at 900 New York St. Also, as a child, Hughes attended the Pinckney Elementary School at 801 West 6th Street. The school renamed its library Langston Hughes Library for Children in 1991.

When asked about the significance of the project, executive producer, Randall Jelks said, “What is known about Hughes remains reduced to his years as an emerging youthful poet during from the 1920s in Harlem. Hughes's life and his life of writing, however, unfurls the American experience like a flag to tell the story of the 20th century struggle for democracy at home and abroad.”

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