Langston Hughes Quote on Racism

“The first two or three days, on the way home from school, little white kids, kids my own age, six and seven years old, would throw stones at me – some of them. There were other little white kids, six and seven years old, who picked up stones and threw them back at their fellow classmates, and defended me, and saw that I got home safely. So, I learned very early in life that our race problem is not really of black against white, and white against black. It’s a problem of people who are not very knowledgeable, or who have small minds, or small spirits.”

– Langston Hughes

Black and white portrait of Langston Hughes from the early 20th century. He is wearing a cap with a ribbon and a white, button-up collared shirt. Langston has a pensive expression, with his eyes looking slightly off to the side of the camera.
Langston Hughes, 1925.


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Born in 1902, Langston was an influential writer, poet and activist. Click here to read our snapshot biography of Langston.

Langston Hughes Quote on Racism Sources

  • National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Elizabeth Ann Hylton, NPG.2011.101
  • Scott, Mark. “Langston Hughes of Kansas.” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 66, no. 1, 1981, pp. 1–9. JSTOR, Accessed 9 Nov. 2023.