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Tracing Visual Culture
in Poetry, Prose, and Art

Kelsey Virginia Downs
NC State University

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Writer, Poet, Author, Journalist, Leftist, Playwright, Musician, Artist, Social Activist, Harlemite

Hughes is most well-known for his poems, such as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and "Theme for English B" - however, his artistic and craftsman scope went far beyond that which we find presented in his poetry. This website explores Hughes's relationship to art, in regards to that which he surrounded himself, that which his work was affiliated with, and that which we associate with him now.

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"We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves."

Langston Hughes in "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" - The Nation, 1926

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