The Life of Langston Hughes - Vol. 2

By Arnold Rampersad | Go to book overview

10

MAKING HAY
1957 to 1958

I play it cool
And dig all jive
That's the reason
I stay alive.

My motto,
As I live and learn,
is:
Dig And Be Dug
In Return
.

"Motto," 1951

BEAMING WITH CONFIDENCE about his future, Hughes rang in the new year by attending so many celebrations—three "white" gatherings downtown, two "cullud" parties uptown in Harlem, capped by a lively visit at six o'clock in the morning to his favorite Harlem nightclub, the Baby Grand—that even he was amazed by his carousing. Certainly there were tasks at hand, and he was eager to accomplish them. Yet he was also determined to enjoy his success. "I am ready to retire to an ivory tower," he wrote to his friend Arna Bontemps, "but have never yet spotted one in Harlem." By "ivory tower" he did not mean a place for pure contemplation. At most, he wanted only a quiet room apart from the worst distractions, some place where he could take advantage, without fear of constant interruption, of the bonanza of professional opportunities that he saw on almost every side, now that his political rehabilitation was apparently complete. He wanted to exploit these opportunties and through them secure a measure of financial prosperity; he also wanted to enjoy himself. Only after the last New Year's toast was drunk did Langston plunge readily into a year he soon called, with good reason, "about the busiest of my life."

In his public appearances he veered away from the controversies that had once almost silenced him. Faced with the news of increasing turmoil in the South over civil rights, he emphasized humor and good cheer. On January 10, as the main speaker at a gala luncheon in Chicago when the predominantly black Windy City Press Club gave its first Man-of-the-Year award to the hero

-263-

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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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