The building where Langston Hughes lived in Harlem is undoubtedly an important part of literary and African American history. Yet the house sits empty, the paint chipping off, only a small plaque suggesting its history.
To make matters worse, the owner of the “Hughes House” recently listed it for sale. While it is now back off the market, the listing got writers worried about losing this piece of history to gentrification.
I can’t speak for all students, but Hughes was one of the few African American poets we studied at my high school. While this is a problem in and of itself, it also speaks to the massive impact that Hughes has had on literature and as a voice for an underrepresented population. His home being sold to commercial developers would be a tragic loss.
Thankfully, there’s still hope that this site can be saved. A writer named Renee Watson sent out a call to raise the funds to buy the house and preserve it as a safe space for art. Along with the campaign, she started a nonprofit called the I, Too, Arts Collective.