110 Langston Hughes Quotes

Get to know more about the African American experience through these Top Langston Hughes quotes. As a poet, playwright, and novelist, Langston Hughes was the first African American to make a living as a writer and was also the first to be accepted by the then all-white society.

As a world traveler, he gained many experiences and insights that made his writing richer and more meaningful. In this collection, we’ve covered his most discussed subjects like equality, hope, and love.

Start reading the full list here.

Best Langston Hughes Quotes

Langston Hughes Quote - I loved my friend, he went away from me. There's nothing more to say. Pin

1. “I loved my friend, he went away from me. There’s nothing more to say. The poem ends, soft as it began. I loved my friend.”

2. “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

3. “What happens to a dream deferred?”

4. “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Life is for the living. Death is for the dead. Pin

5. “Life is for the living. Death is for the dead.”

6. “Let life be like music, and death a note unsaid.”

7. “Folks, I’m telling you, birthing is hard and dying is mean—so get yourself a little loving in between.”

8. “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.”

9. “Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be.”

Langston Hughes Quote - I'm so tired of waiting, aren't you, for the world to become good, and beautiful, and kind?Pin

10. “I’m so tired of waiting, aren’t you, for the world to become good, and beautiful, and kind?”

11. “I have discovered, in life, that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”

12. “I tire of hearing people say, ‘Let things take their course.’”

13. “Tomorrow is another day. I do not need my freedom when I’m dead. I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.”

14. “Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—let it be that great, strong land of love where kings never connive nor tyrants scheme—that any man be crushed by one above.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Let America be America, where equality is in the air we breathe.Pin

15. “Let America be America, where equality is in the air we breathe.”

16. “Negroes—sweet and docile, meek, humble, and kind. Beware the day they change their mind.”

17. “I stay cool, and dig all the jive. That’s the way I stay alive. My motto—as I live and learn, is dig and be dug in return.”

18. “Gather out of star-dust, Earth-dust, cloud-dust, storm-dust, and splinters of hail; one handful of dream-dust, not for sale.”

19. “When a man starts out to build a world, he starts first with himself.”

Langston Hughes Quotes on the Fight for Freedom and Equality

Langston Hughes Quote - Good morning, revolution. You're the very best friend I ever had. Pin

20. “Good morning, revolution. You’re the very best friend I ever had. We are gonna pal around together from now on.”

21. “Keep your hand on the plow. Hold on.”

22. “Peace—we passed their graves. The dead men there, winners or losers, did not care. In the dark, they could not see who had gained the victory.”

23. “I am a Negro—black as the night is black, black like the depths of my Africa.”

24. “O, let my land be a land where liberty is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, but opportunity is real, and life is free—equality is in the air we breathe.”

Langston Hughes Quote - There are words like freedom, sweet and wonderful to say. In my heartstrings, freedom sings all day everyday. There are words like liberty, that almost make me cry.Pin

25. “There are words like freedom, sweet and wonderful to say. In my heartstrings, freedom sings all day everyday. There are words like liberty, that almost make me cry. If you had known what I know, you would know why.”

26. “That justice is a blind goddess is a thing to which we black are wise. Her bandage hides two festering sores that once perhaps were eyes.”

27. “I look at my own body with eyes no longer blind, and I see that my own hands can make the world that’s in my mind.”

28. “Well, when Christ comes back this time, I hope He comes back and makes His own self. I hope He drives the Jim Crows out of their high places—every living last one of them from Washington to Texas.”

29. “Frosting freedom is just frosting on somebody else’s cake, and so must be till we learn how to bake.”

Langston Hughes Quote - The depression brought everybody down a peg or two, and the Negro had but few pegs to fall.Pin

30. “The depression brought everybody down a peg or two, and the Negro had but few pegs to fall.”

31. “A world I dream where black or white, whatever race you be, will share the bounties of the earth and every man is free.”

32. “America never was America to me, and yet, I swear this oath—America will be!”

33. “I swear to the Lord, I still can’t see why Democracy means everybody but me.”

34. “I am the American heartbreak—the rock on which freedom stumped its toe.”

Langston Hughes Quote - There is no color line in death.Pin

35. “There is no color line in death.”

36. “Democracy will not come today, this year, nor ever, through compromise and fear.”

37. “If you want to honor me, give some young boy or girl who’s coming along trying to create arts, and write, and compose, and sing, and act, and paint, and dance, and make something out of the beauties of the Negro race. Give that child some help.”

38. “Misery is when you heard on the radio that the neighborhood you live in is a slum, but you always thought it was home.”

39. “Melting pot Harlem-Harlem of honey, and chocolate, and caramel, and rum, and vinegar, and lemon, and lime, and gall. Dusky dreams of Harlem rumbling into a nightmare tunnel where the subway from the Bronx keeps right on downtown.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro and beautiful!Pin

40. “Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro and beautiful!”

41. “We Negro writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives. Censorship for us begins at the color line.”

42. “Good evening, daddy! Ain’t you heard the boogie-woogie rumble of a dream deferred? Trilling the treble and twining the bass into midnight ruffles of cat-gut lace.”

43. “The past has been a mint of blood and sorrow—that must not be true of tomorrow.”

44. “Gather quickly out of darkness all the songs you know, and throw them at the sun before they melt like snow.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Politics in any country in the world is dangerous.Pin

45. “Politics in any country in the world is dangerous. For the poet, politics in any country had better be disguised as poetry.”

46. “Politics can be the graveyard of the poet, and only poetry can be his resurrection.”

47. “Serve and hate will die unborn. Love and chains are broken.”

48. “These feet have walked ten thousand miles working for white folks and another ten thousand keeping up with the colored.”

49. “A dog gets lonesome just like a human. He wants to associate with other dogs, but when they take him out, the poor dog is on a leash and cannot run around.”

Langston Hughes Quotes on Hope and Life

Langston Hughes Quote - Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air, and you. Pin

50. “Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air, and you.”

51. “Life is a big sea full of many fish. I let down my nets and pulled. I’m still pulling.”

52. “The calm, cool face of the river asked me for a kiss.”

53. “For my best poems were all written when I felt the worst. When I was happy, I didn’t write anything.”

54. “I went down to the river, I sat down on the bank. I tried to think but couldn’t, so I jumped in and sank.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Oh, god of dust and rainbows, help us to see that without the dust, the rainbow would not be.Pin

55. “Oh, god of dust and rainbows, help us to see that without the dust, the rainbow would not be.”

56. “I got the weary blues and I can’t be satisfied.”

57. “The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night, and I love the rain.”

58. “Life is a system of half-truths and lies, opportunistic, convenient evasion.”

59. “I’ve been scared and battered. My hopes for the wind are scattered. Snow has frozen me, the sun has baked me. Looks like between ‘em they tried to make me stop laughing, stop loving, stop living, but I don’t care! I’m still here!”

Langston Hughes Quote - It's such a bore being always poor.Pin

60. “It’s such a bore being always poor.”

61. “Blues has the pulse beat of the people who keep on going.”

62. “Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”

63. “I wish the rent was heaven sent.”

64. “Humor is when the joke’s on you but hits the other fellow first before it boomerangs.”

Langston Hughes Quote - I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face.Pin

65. “I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face.”

66. “My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

67. “I will not take ‘but’ for an answer. Negroes have been looking at democracy’s ‘but’ too long.”

68. “I’ve known rivers. I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.”

69. “Life doesn’t frighten me at all.”

Langston Hughes Quote - We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.Pin

70. “We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”

71. “Hang yourself, poet, in your own words. Otherwise, you are dead.”

72. “I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes, but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong.”

73. “I don’t dare start thinking in the morning. I don’t dare start thinking in the morning. If I thought thoughts in bed, those thoughts would bust my head—so I don’t dare start thinking in the morning.”

74. “Harriet Tubman lived to see the harvest.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Books - where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language. - Pin

75. “Books—where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas.”

76. “One of the great difficulties about being a member of a minority race is that so many kind hearted, well-meaning bores gather around to help.”

77. “Beauty, for some, provides escape.”

78. “Wear it like a banner for the proud, not like a shroud.”

79. “Everybody should take each other as they are—White, Black, Indians, Creole. Then there would be no prejudice, nations would get along.”

Langston Hughes Quotes on Love, Humanity, and the Arts

Langston Hughes Quote - Never look for a worm in the apple of your eye. Pin

80. “Never look for a worm in the apple of your eye.”

81. “When you turn the corner and you run into yourself, then you know that you have turned all the corners that are left.”

82. “When people care for you and cry for you, they can straighten out your soul.”

83. “Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.”

84. “For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly.”

Langston Hughes Quote - An artist must be free to choose what he does.Pin

85. “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”

86. “Looks like what drives me crazy doesn’t have any effect on you, but I’m gonna keep on at it till it drives you crazy, too.”

87. “Love is a naked shadow on a gnarled and naked tree.”

88. “When poems stop talking about the moon and begin to mention poverty, trade unions, color, color lines and colonies, somebody tells the police.”

89. “Humor is laughing at what you haven’t got when you ought to have it.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Most musicians remain poor. But the music that they make, even if it does not bring them millions, gives millions of people happiness.Pin

90. “Most musicians remain poor. But the music that they make, even if it does not bring them millions, gives millions of people happiness.”

91. “Out of love, no regrets though the goodness is wasted forever. Out of love, no regrets, though the return is never.”

92. “Though you may hear me holler, and you may see me cry, I’ll be dogged, sweet baby, if you’re gonna see me die.”

93. “I asked you, baby, If you understood. You told me that you didn’t, but you thought you would.”

94. “Hard as I try, daddy-o, I really do not like concert singers. They are always singing in some foreign language.”

Langston Hughes Quote - The rhythm of life is a jazz rhythm.Pin

95. “The rhythm of life is a jazz rhythm.”

96. “Whiskey just naturally likes me, but beer likes me better.”

97. “I don’t want no pretty woman. First thing you know, you fall in love with her, then you gotta kill somebody about her. She’ll make you so jealous, you’ll bust!”

98. “Sometimes, a crumb falls from the tables of joy. Sometimes, a bone is flung. To some people, love is given. To others, only heaven.”

99. “Cheap little rhymes, a cheap little tune, are sometimes as dangerous as a sliver of the moon.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Gather up in the arms of your love, those who expect no love from above.Pin

100. “Gather up in the arms of your love, those who expect no love from above.”

101. “The first of the month falls every month, too—North or South. And the white folks who send bills never forget to send them—the phone bill, the furniture bill, the water bill, the gas bill, insurance, house rent.”

102. “There’s a certain amount of traveling in a dream deferred.”

103. “It has seemed to me that most people are generally good—in every race and in every country where I have been.”

104. “Sometimes, I wish the public were equally aware of the men of our race in the cultural fields. You, for instance, have you ever bought a book by a Negro writer?”

Langston Hughes Quote - Money and art are far apart.Pin

105. “Money and art are far apart.”

106. “A picture, to be an interesting picture, must be more than a picture. Otherwise, it is only a reproduction of an object, and not an object of value in itself.”

107. “Both of them were very good and kind—the one who went to church and the one who didn’t. And no doubt from them I learned to like both Christians and sinners equally well.”

108. “This morning, I paid seventy cents for two little old dried-up slivers of bacon and one cockeyed egg. It took me till noon to get my appetite back.”

109. “The prerequisite for writing is having something to say.”

Langston Hughes Quote - Life is an egg you have to be patient and careful with or it will break.Pin

110. “Life is an egg you have to be patient and careful with or it will break.”

Did These Langston Hughes Quotes Make You Step Back and Get a Bigger View of the World and How It Works?

Though considered one of the greatest poets in American history, Langston Hughes is skilled in many more writing styles. He wrote plays, short stories, and even children’s books. However, the fact remains that he was most famous for his poetic contributions to the Harlem Renaissance movement. In his works, he was direct and candid with his attempts to articulate and voice out the lives and experiences of post-Emancipation African Americans. He was a symbol of hope and a voice for nameless and unsung everyday men and women who needed to be heard and noticed.

How do you fight for equality and justice? Which of Langston Hughes’ quotes had the most impact on you? Tell us about your thoughts in the comments section below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

Leave a Comment