The Life of Langston Hughes - Vol. 2

By Arnold Rampersad | Go to book overview

13

IN GOSPEL GLORY
1961 to 1963

Christ is born on earthen floor
In a stable with no lock—
Yet kingdoms tremble at the shock
Of a King in swaddling clothes
At an address no one knows
...

Black Nativity, 1961

WHISPERED INSINUATIONS and rumors did not lessen Langston's popularity or diminish his prestige. Few days passed without some writer or artist from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, or Europe, ringing the doorbell at 20 East I27th Street. So many of these visitors came now at the request of the Department of State that Langston finally protested to Washington that if he was to be "the official host of Harlem," he should have an official stipend. But without a stipend, and in a few crowded days, he welcomed at one point a group of French theater folk, a poet from Colombia, a writer from Jamaica, and two writers from Africa. Some visitors were more welcome than others. The charming Wole Soyinka ("Bright boy") enlivened the house as he learned the "twist" from George Bass and demonstrated in turn the Nigerian "JuJu." With visitors who proved to be bores, as a few did, Langston as often as not took them to the Baby Grand nightclub, where the music was usually so loud that he could ignore them. Some visitors, however, refused to be ignored. One night, an ominous-looking white man sat outside the house all night, then scurried past Mrs. Harper on the heels of another visitor who had brought a tape recording of a play which "almost put me to sleep." The mysterious white man wanted to borrow a few thousand dollars. He went quietly only after Langston, in desperation, handed him three one-dollar bills. "So my day was shot! Took me 24 hours to get my nerves together again. At the moment neither white folks nor Negroes get past the front door. "

With the fall came various receptions and dinners—for Alioune Diop of the prominent magazine Présence Africaine; for Marvin Wachman, the new president of Lincoln University; for the British intellectual C. P. Snow, given by the National Institute of Arts and Letters (sitting together, Langston and the

-341-

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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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