Black Genius Reclaimed: Langston Hughes’ Birthplace in Joplin, Missouri, to be Honored as Historic Landmark

Langston Hughes’ birthplace in Joplin, Missouri, has been definitively located and is set to become a historic landmark, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Langston Hughes Society. Read on to find out how this monumental discovery is not just an act of remembrance but a radical statement in reclaiming Black culture and history.

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s a monumental day for Black history and culture as the Langston Hughes Society receives long-awaited confirmation: the exact location of the house where Langston Hughes, the iconic poet and cornerstone of the Harlem Renaissance, was born. This discovery fuels the Society’s mission to immortalize this sacred space, a testament to Black brilliance.

Back in July, two archaeologists from Missouri State University descended upon an unassuming vacant lot near Tenth and South Joplin Avenue. Armed with ground-penetrating radar, they sought to unearth the buried legacy of Langston Hughes. This wasn’t just a needle-in-a-haystack search; this was a quest to locate a monumental piece of Black heritage.

The Langston Hughes Society can now breathe a sigh of relief, as the radar confirmed the exact outline of the house where Hughes took his first breaths. “Now that we have pinpointed the location, it’s time to elevate Hughes’ legacy to where it belongs—in the forefront of American history,” said Melissa Swindell, President of the Langston Hughes Cultural Society.

First on the agenda? Erecting a historical marker to honor the space where Hughes’ genius was born. But they’re not stopping there. Swindell shared visions of constructing an above-ground framework to illustrate the house’s dimensions, offering a tangible connection to Hughes’ roots.

Central to the Society’s vision is the creation of a “Poetry Garden,” a public space that immerses visitors in the poetic magic of Hughes. “We want the public to not just read, but feel Hughes’ work. We envision this space as a cultural pilgrimage destination right here in Joplin,” said Swindell.

Turning this vision into reality will require community support. Donations are essential for bringing this monumental project to life. You can contribute to this powerful act of reclaiming Black history by visiting the Langston Hughes Society’s Facebook page.

In an era where Black voices are often marginalized, honoring Langston Hughes is not just an act of remembrance—it’s a radical statement that Black culture, history, and intellect deserve a spotlight. And thanks to the Langston Hughes Society, that spotlight just got a little brighter.


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