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February 01, 2016


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David Abraham

I cannot comment on the veracity of the shawl episode except to say that shawls are among the most common of holy relics in Christian-infused narratives. In any event, viva the great Langston Hughes: everyone should read his short collection "The Panther and the Lash," which features an amazing couplet that moves us from liberal democracy to social democracy:
"I love Ralph Bunche
But I can't eat him for lunch."

Steven Freedman

It was no accident that Langston Hughes' grandmother ended up in Lawrence, KS. Lawrence was the center of the Free State movement during the Bleeding Kansas era and attracted many African American freemen and ex-slaves. John Brown's base of operation was located in the district, he even helped stave off an invasion of Lawrence in 1855 by rallying the townspeople to take positions against a Missouri militia (although he was not there to save Lawrence in 1856 and 1863 when pro-slavers sacked the town). With such a history, Lawrence was a natural location for his grandmother to settle in.

Although his childhood home no longer exists, the town commemorated him by naming an elementary school after him.


You can see a photo of the shawl online. Hughes donated it to the Ohio Historical Society in 1943.

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