My Early Days in Harlem, No. 3, 1963
One of the leading lights of the literary movement the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes shares with Walt Whitman the honor of being the most translated of American poets.
On a bright September morning in 1921, I came up out of the subway at 185th and Lenox into the beginnings of the Negro Renaissance. I headed for the Harlem YMCA down the block, where so many new, young, dark, male arrivals in Harlem have spent early days. The next place I headed to that afternoon was the Harlem Branch Library just up the street. There, a warm and wonderful librarian, Miss Ernestine Rose, white, made newcomers feel welcome, as did her assistant in charge of the Schomburg Collection, Catherine Latimer, a luscious café au lait. That night I went to the Lincoln Theatre across Lenox Avenue where maybe one of the Smiths -- Bessie, Clara, Trixie, or Mamie -- was singing the blues. And as soon as I could, I made a beeline for Shuffle Along, the all-colored hit musical playing on 63rd Street in which Florence Mills came to fame.