The Life of Langston Hughes - Vol. 2

By Arnold Rampersad | Go to book overview

4

THIRD DEGREE
1944 to 1945

Hit me! Jab me!
Make me say I did it.
Blood on my sport shirt
And my tan suede shoes ...

"Third Degree," 1949

FOR THE FIRST TIME in three years, Langston saw the summer approach without an invitation to Yaddo. For various reasons, not least of all the exigencies of the war, the writers' colony did relatively little in the summer of I944. Instead, Langston planned to stay at home as much as possible, work on his various small projects, and save his strength for a challenging autumn and winter, with two demanding speaking tours. The first would take him to a variety of high schools around New York for Read Lewis's Common Council for American Unity. The second, under the expert management of the Feakins lecture bureau, would take him further afield, and last for several months. Both would require a rested, physically fit Langston Hughes.

A brief excursion far from New York early in the summer presented virtually no demands at all. On July 8, Langston breezily mounted a stage at the White Sox Baseball Park in Chicago as master of ceremonies of the Fifth Annual American Negro Music Festival; two days later he and the festival moved in a caravan to the Sportsman's Ball Park in St. Louis, Missouri; then, on July 12, they ended their tour at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. This extravaganza was organized as part of the Chicago Defender's contribution to the war effort, with the Defender executives W. Louis Davis and John Sengstacke serving as president-director and vice-president of the festival, and with all profits going to the Army and Navy Relief Fund. Despite driving summer rain in Chicago, the festival was a success, as thousands of people turned out for what Langston called admiringly "an ALL STAR million dollar show!" The attractions included a bevy of preening beauty queens, a mass choir led by the gospel composer Thomas A. Dorsey, an orchestra led by Noble Sissle, the trumpet playing of W. C. Handy, and the concert singers Lillian Evanti of the National Negro

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The Life of Langston Hughes - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Life of Langston Hughes - I Dream a World *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Still Here 1941 3
  • 2 - Jim Crow''s Last Stand 1941 To 1943 32
  • 3 - Simple Speaks His Mind 1943 To 1944 61
  • 4 - Third Degree 1944 To 1945 88
  • 5 - Street Scene 1945 To 1947 108
  • 6 - Heart on the Wall 1947 To 1948 128
  • 7 - On Solid Ground 1948 To 1950 146
  • 8 - In Warm Manure 1951 To 1953 189
  • 9 - Out from under 1953 To 1956 223
  • 10 - Making Hay 1957 To 1958 263
  • 11 - You Are the World 1958 To 1960 288
  • 12 - Ask Your Mama! 1960 To 1961 314
  • 13 - In Gospel Glory 1961 To 1963 341
  • 14 - Blues for Mister Backlash 1963 To 1965 364
  • 15 - Final Call 1965 To 1966 386
  • 16 - Do Nothing till You Hear from Me 1966 To 1967 404
  • Afterword 426
  • Abbreviations 436
  • Notes 437
  • Acknowledgments 493
  • Index 499
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