While most people can waste away their lives trying to figure a way to make a reasonable difference to those around them, Langston, Richard and Ralph each happened onto their contribution, through simply honest expression. These few men helped foster the strength and continuation of the American heartbeat by sharing with the world what they felt on the inside, at a time when their outsides were unacceptable to so many. Though not without controversy, these three, nonetheless, helped to forge a great and wonderful American paradigm shift of tolerance and understanding.
From 1902 until 1994, America witnessed the lives of our subjects. First to arrive was Langston Hughes. Born in Joplin, Missouri, on February 1, 1902, he was the second child of school teacher Carrie Mercer Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes. Langston was born into an elite, politically active family, whose ancestry was racially mixed. In 1888, Hughes’ grand-uncle, John Mercer Langston, became the first African American to be elected to the United States Congress from Virginia. In 1858, Langston’s maternal grand-father, Charles Henry Langston, worked for the abolitionist cause and helped lead the Ohio...
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...en a trumpeter from a young age on top of all else.
Ralph had a wonderful life by most standards. He helped the world to understand the contributions African Americans made to America’s national identity. In 1969 he received the presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1994 Ralph Ellison died of pancreatic cancer.
To Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison, America owes a debt of gratitude. Within their works, wonder ceases; suffering seems to have a purpose. But not for the painful disadvantages of their young lives and others like them, there would not be the fire, the drive, or the ambition required to set records straight, or to make eyes see what all eyes should see. In their contributions, Americans past, present and future, are better able to look into an historical mirror, and unlock the secrets of a national reflection.
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