February 1 marked the start of Black History Month, an annual, national celebration of the achievements of African Americans and a reflection on the African American experience.

To kick off your Black History Month celebration this week, Poets.org presents a new essay by Kevin Young about Langston Hughes’s The Weary Blues, which will be republished by Knopf later this month. Celebrating the rhythms, sights, and sounds of the Harlem Renaissance while casting an eye upon racial inequities and the failings of the American dream, The Weary Blues was Hughes’s first book and helped establish him as one of the most prominent figures in black history. Read Young’s essay here.

Don’t forget to delve further into the rich tradition of African American poetry with the works of other renowned poets, such as Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Yusef Komunyakaa, Nathaniel Mackey, and Carl Phillips. For poems from these poets and others, as well as audio poems, videos, essays, and teaching resources related to the African American experience, visit our black history month page.