Langston Hughes (1902-1967) achieved renown for being the first African American to make a living solely from his writing. In a career that spanned over forty years, Hughes distinguished himself in poetry, short fiction, the novel, plays, news columns, autobiography, character sketches, librettos, anthology-making, children’s literature, history, screenwriting, translations, and folklore, earning the unofficial but honorific designation of Poet Laureate of Black America. The scholarly attention given to Hughes’s life and art over the years has resulted in a number of interpretations of his public and private selves that have implications for humanistic study, several of which have been the focus of documentary films. And yet, the general impression that Hughes’ was just another, if foundational, Harlem Renaissance poet remains.
The Dream Documentary Collective was formed to create “I, Too, Sing America”: Langston Hughes Unfurled, a two-part documentary film about Hughes’s life and art that dispels this overly simplistic representation of Hughes’s career in the mainstream media. In collaboration with the Lawrence Arts Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, WNET, and Hughes scholars from across the nation, the Dream Documentary Collective proposes to explore the multiplicity of ways in which Hughes constructed his identity, participated in the international arts scene, and engaged with the American dream.