Meet the Past: Langston Hughes

All Kansas City Public Library locations will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 26, and will remain closed all day Thursday, November 27, for Thanksgiving.

Meet the Past: Langston Hughes
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
8:30pm @ Central Library

Kansas City Public Library Director Crosby Kemper III interviews Langston Hughes, portrayed by Charles Everett Pace, as part of the Library's Meet the Past series on Tuesday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

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Recommended reading: Langston Hughes

Hughes' The Negro Speaks of Rivers was first published in The Crisis in 1921. It later appeared in his first book of poetry The Weary Blues in 1926 and is one of his most well-known poems. Hughes used short lines combined with short stanzas to write about the familiar subject of his surroundings. He is widely known for his integration of poetry with the cadence of blues and jazz.

Born in Joplin, Mo., in 1902, Hughes spent much of his childhood in Lawrence, Kansas. During his career he wrote plays, essays, humor, newspaper columns, novels, short stories, operas, works for children, and two autobiographies. His play Mulatto earned the distinction of being the longest running dramatic work by an African American on Broadway until Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.

Best known today for his poetry, Hughes also created a fictional character named Jesse B. Semple in the 1950s. Hughes wrote a series of newspaper columns in which he would have fictional conversations with Semple about topics such as family values and race relations.

Pace is in his 15th year as a scholar with The Great Plains Chautauqua Society, a five-states touring scholar-in-residence project. He holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and Purdue University. Library audiences will remember him for an earlier portrayal of Frederick Douglass.

Production for the Meet the Past television series begins in April with three programs filmed before a live audience at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. Additional episodes will be filmed in May, June, and July. The series will air in a regular prime-time timeslot on KCPT (channel 19) in the fall of 2009.

Meet the Past features Kemper interviewing prominent historical figures (as portrayed by veteran Chautauqua performers) with Kansas City-area connections.

Major funding for Meet the Past has been provided by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Admission is free. Click here or call 816.701.3407 to RSVP. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th and Baltimore.

Watch the video