Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 November 2022
In 1932 Langston Hughes went to Moscow to make a movie about Black life in the United States. When the movie fell apart, Hughes extended his trip and spent fifteen months touring the Soviet Union. This trip was one of Hughes’s most prolific and profitable as a writer. The Soviet government hired him to write a pamphlet called “A Negro Looks at Soviet Central Asia,” and he published several Soviet-themed essays in US publications and wrote a handful of short stories later collected in The Ways of White Folks. While Hughes was impressed with his experiences in Moscow and Leningrad, his experiences in Soviet Central Asia struck the deepest chord with him. The parallel disenfranchisements of a colored, exploited Southern people moved him to draw extensive comparisons between the US South and Soviet Central Asia. He wrote about these parallels in pieces that together underscore his belief in a rigorous antiracism and a committed internationalism.
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