Raymond Smith: On "Negro"

In Hughes's poetry, the central element of importance is the affirmation of blackness. Everything that distinguished Hughes's poetry from the white avant-garde poets of the twenties revolved around this important affirmation. Musical idioms, jazz rhythms, Hughes's special brand of "black-white" irony, and dialect were all dependent on the priority of black selfhood:

I am a Negro Black as the night is black Black like the depths of my Africa.

From Victor Kramer, ed. The Harlem Renaissance Re-examined (1987).