Jazz poet and social activist Langston Hughes utilized the American language, music, slang and religious views to educate the world about African American lifestyles during the Harlem Renaissance. Keith Henley’s portrayal of Hughes deals with the issue of how to be oneself, and encourages all to joy in the knowledge that “I too have a song to sing” and to ask the question “why not me?” Henley will present this program on Monday, Feb. 10, at 6 p.m. at the Long Beach Island branch of the Ocean County Library in Surf City.
This program has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
Hughes’ jazz poetry depicted the real-life experiences of blacks in the lower social-economic strata. His criticisms focused on the divisions and prejudices based on skin color within the black community
Henley graduated from South Carolina State College with a major in chemistry and minor in mathematics and biology. Later, he went on to study theater education at Camden County College. He currently owns and operates J.O.Y. Productions, Queenie’s Homemade Sweets and Catering, and Alpha Designs. In addition, he is the artistic director and choreographer for Folkloric Heritage Culture Arts Company Inc. of Cherry Hill.
He began his historic interpretation career with Historic Philadelphia Inc. and has since worked for American Historical Theatre and History First Hand, and has performed for the Smithsonian Associates Teaching American History program, Historic Germantown and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia as well as local libraries.
To register for the program, call the branch at 609-494-2480.