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African American Experience in Literature

The writings of Langston Hughes demonstrate an honest expression of uninhibited African American existence. While this caused many to view HughesÆ works with scorn and prejudice, his works deal honestly with the African American experience as he knew it. HughesÆ works paint an unvarnished picture of life as an African American in a society that is prejudiced and racist against African Americans. HughesÆ works not only graphically depict the abusive aspects of such an existence but they also celebrate African American expression without diminishing or ameliorating the traits deemed ôunworthyö by a mainstream and White culture. One of his most famous poems, A Dream Deferred, asks the question: What happens to a dream deferred? The Dream HughesÆ is referring to is the dream shared by all human beings, the dream of living a fulfilling existence as a free individual with the full rights of other human beings. HughesÆ works not only retain the rhythm, idiom, and dialect of African American culture but they also influenced many African American writers like Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor. For HughesÆ poems might express the African American experience on one level but they convey themes and issues that are universal and apply to all human beings. It is this aspect of the African American experience on the individual level and the universal experience on the communal level that HughesÆ A Dream Deferred most has in common with NaylorÆs The Women of Brewster Place and MorrisonÆs Jazz.

Langston Hughes defended young African Americans writers throughout his life. He once said in their defense, ôWe younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark skinned selves without fear or shame,ö (A 1990, 1487). While this might have been the intention, numerous barriers stood in the way of such uninhibited expression for African Americans in an oppressive, prejudiced society. It is suppression of African ...

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African American Experience in Literature. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:50, May 22, 2019, from