Black History and Kansas – Narrowed Down

I’ve narrowed my proposal down to three people, Eva Jessye, Langston Hughes, Leon K Hughes.  I chose them because I enjoy most forms of art, and they all share a common ground for some form of art whether it be music, poetry, or photography.

Eva Jessye

  • Poet, writer, artist, teacher, actress, performer, composer and choral director
  • Born in Coffeyville, Kansas
  • She had memories of her Great Aunt Harriet singing spirituals to her after her chores were done for the day, and she became the overall inspiration for her deep appreciation of music
  • Was 7 when fell in love with poetry
  • Earned a degree in music theory and choral music
  • “Only took 3 weeks to compile and publish, My Spirituals, her critically acclaimed collection of songs from southeast Kansas”
  • Was the original choral conductor of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess
  • “1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. chose the Eva Jessye Choir as official chorus of the March on Washington for the civil rights movements”

Langston Hughes

  • Influenced by Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman
  • Spent majority of childhood in Lawrence, Kansas with his gma
  • He was elected class poet in high school but credits this to the stereotype of blacks having better rhythm than most since he was one of the two black kids in his class
  • Some scholars believe he was gay and left hints in his poetry like Whitman
  • Wrote a variety of materiel from plays to novels, but he was best known for his poetry
  • Most of his work showed the true way that blacks of low social statuses lived
  • He wanted to lift his people up and strengthen them
  • His work had influences of folk and jazz rhythms

Leon K Hughes

  • Leon was a self-taught photographer who had his own photography business at home with his wife, Rosie
  • He was the go to photographer for his “community, church and civic events”
  • He retired after photographing for the community for three decades
  • His collection has more than 2,700 images and range from black and white to colored photos
  • His photography gave “an inside view of African American life” which normally wouldn’t be seen by the majority of the public.
  • The photographs shows events such as weddings, birthdays, and the community itself like the schools and churches



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