Share This
Langston Hughes Festival

Langston Hughes Choral Speaking Festival


The Choral Speaking Festival

The Choral Speaking Festival is held in the spring and features local school children (grades K through 6) performing imaginative renditions of Hughes' poetry and fiction.

Langston Hughes Essay Contest

Langston Lives! - An Essay Competition for First and Second Year Students at City College
Sponsored by The Langston Hughes Festival

  • First Prize: $500
  • Second Prize: $250
  • Third Prize: $150

Freshman and sophomore students from all disciplines are invited to submit essays of 500-750 words in length that celebrate and analyze the enduring value of the work of Langston Hughes.

You may write an essay in response to one or several of Hughes' works.

Sample topics and questions to consider:
  • Why have scholars called Langston Hughes the "African American Poet Laureate of Democracy"?
  • What is Langston Hughes' legacy and how does his work relate to the present day?
  • How does Langston Hughes depict the beauty of Harlem? What would he think of Harlem today?  
  • What does his work reveal about his views on race and class in America?
  • Music and the work of Langston Hughes
  •  Hughes saw the writer as artist and activist. Is this relevant/necessary today? Why or why not? What is the artist's responsibility?
Please be sure to use MLA style when quoting from Hughes' work to exemplify and support your analysis.

Submit your essay of 500-750 words as a Word attachment or PDF to by October 30, 2015.  Winners will be selected by the 2015 Langston Hughes Festival Committee and announced in advance of the November 20, 2015 Langston Hughes Medal ceremony honoring Jacqueline Woodson. Winners must be present at the ceremony. Please visit for more information about the festival and its history.

James Mercer Langston Hughes (1902-1967) rose to become a major American poet and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. He lived in and traveled to many places including Africa, Mexico, France and Asia. Upon the publication of his first volume of poetry, The Weary Blues (1926), Hughes inaugurated a tradition of poetry inflected with the Afrocentric rhythms and tonalities of blues and jazz, and remained dedicated to the depiction of urban African American folk life. Hughes also wrote plays, a novel, two autobiographies and newspaper columns. Known as a pioneer of blues and jazz poetry, Hughes modeled himself as a poet as activist and is celebrated as such around the world.

Previous Supporters of the Choral Speaking Festival & Essay Contest

Simon H. Rifkind Center for Humanities
The Department of English at The City College of New York
RCMI at The City College of New York
The City College of New York's "College Now" Program
CCNY I-Media
Asa Philip Randolph Campus High School
The Drifters, Inc.
Mr. Larry Welch (NYFD Ret.)
Christopher K. Sowers, P.C.
Uptown Slices, Harlem, N.Y. 
Lloyd's Carrot Cake, Riverdale, N.Y.
Emblem Health

Events Coordinator

Prof. Charles Frye Jr.
NAC 4/145
(212) 650-7914

For more information:
P| 212-650-6353