Langston Hughes Visited WMU & Kalamazoo in 1945
Langston Hughes will go down as one of the most influential and talented poets the world will ever know. He spent many of his years piecing together words in a way that no one else could, forever cementing his legacy and leaving behind a name that holds so much weight.
Residents of Kalamazoo and students of Western Michigan University(WMU) had the privilege of meeting and listening to Langston Hughes speak during the mid-1950s. At this time our country was living a very different lifestyle, but everyone admired and respected Langston, making his trip to Kalamazoo a significant one.
In 1945 the Kalamazoo Teachers Club invited Langston Hughes to Kalamazoo to give a speech and to enjoy the city for what it is. Hughes would accept the offer and would make his way to Kalamazoo during the early part of the year. In February the poet touched down in Kalamazoo to a warm welcome.
In 1945 Kalamazoo Central High School was known as Central High School and was located downtown at what is now known as Chenery Auditorium. Langston spoke there on Thursday, February 1st at 8:15 before spending some time in town.
Greg Gabry from Vanished Kalamazoo recalls the night and says this:
There were over 1200 in attendance at the Central Auditorium that night. Hughes spent most of his day in town, starting with several small gatherings with Kalamazoo students and one with the entire student body at Central. A dinner at the Douglass Community Center with 300 attendees followed; the dinner was an impromptu surprise birthday party for Hughes who showed his gratitude to the crowd by reading a few of his poems before heading back to Central for the evenings main event.
Now, I'm starting to wonder what other celebrities or well-known figures have spent some time in Kalamazoo, check out these galleries to find out.