Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations

By Nina Mjagkij | Go to book overview
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Labor Education Program

See Southern Regional Council.

Ladies' London Emancipation Society

See London Emancipation Society.

Langston Hughes Society

Founded in 1981, the Langston Hughes Society (LHS) was the first scholarly association named in honor of an African American writer. The LHS is a national association of scholars, teachers, creative and performing artists, students, and lay persons who seek to increase awareness and appreciation of Langston Hughes (1902-1967), the first African American to make his living solely by his pen. Throughout his four decades of literary creativity that is virtually unrivaled in American letters, Hughes wrote fifty books, including poetry, drama, autobiography, history, fiction, prose comedy, juvenile literature, librettos, and black gospel song-plays. He was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the 1925 Opportunity magazine poetry prize, the 1925 Crisis magazine Amy Spingarn Contest poetry and essay prizes, the 1931 Harmon Gold Medal, the 1946 National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the 1953 Anisfield-Wolf Award, and the 1960 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. Moreover, he was the recipient of Rosenwald Fellowships in 1931 and 1941 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935. He received honorary doctorates from Lincoln University in 1943, Howard University in 1963, and Western Reserve University in 1964 and was the unofficial U.S. ambassador to the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal, in 1966.

The LHS emerged during the Langston Hughes Study conference held in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes's birthplace, March 13-14, 1981. Sponsored by Missouri Southern State College and funded by the Missouri Committee for the Humanities, the conference attempted to assess the status of Hughes in contemporary American literature and attracted scholars from across the country, as well as students and the general public. Featured speakers included prominent African Americanists such as Therman B.O'Daniel from Morgan State University, Richard K. Barksdale from the University of Illinois, Arnold Rampersad from Stanford University, George H. Bass from Brown University, Charles Nilon from the University of Colorado, Delitta L. Martin from the University of Alabama at Birmigham, Walter C. Daniel from the University of Missouri at Columbia, Leslie Sanders from York University in Toronto, and Eva Jessye, visiting professor at nearby Pittsburg State University and director of Hughes's play Tambourines of Glory (1958).

The LHS founding meeting was held in the Baltimore home of Therman and Lillian O'Daniel on June 26, 1981, the anniversary of the date that Hughes received the Spingarn Medal in 1960. O'Daniel, who had edited Langston Hughes: Black Genius (1971), a widely read collection of essays, initiated the LHS. Other founding members included the aforementioned George H. Bass; Faith D. Berry, an independent scholar from McLean, Virginia; Alice A. Deck, Grinnell College, Iowa; Akiba Sullivan Harper, Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia; and Eloise Y. Spicer, Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, D.C.

In October 1981, the six founding members met in Atlanta, Georgia, at the home of Millicent Dobbs Jordan from Spelman College, who had known Langston Hughes while he was a visiting teacher at the Atlanta University

Langston Hughes Society


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