Lindsay Patterson, a novelist who served as Hughes’s assistant, believed that Hughes was critically, the most abused poet in America. Serious white critics ignored him, less serious ones compared his poetry to Cassius Clay doggerel, and most black critics only grudgingly admired him.
Some, like James Baldwin, were downright malicious about his poetic achievement.
Before he was 12 years old he had lived in six different American cities.
When his first book was published, he had already been a truck farmer, cook, waiter, college graduate, sailor, and doorman at a nightclub in Paris, and had visited Mexico, West Africa, the Azores, the Canary Islands, Holland, France, and Italy.
(And still are.) In anything that white people were likely to read, they wanted to put their best foot forward, their politely polished and cultural foot—and only that foot.
In fact, the title which was misunderstood and disliked by many people, was derived from the Harlemites Hughes saw pawning their own clothing; most of the pawn shops and other stores in Harlem at that time were owned by Jewish people.
David Littlejohn wrote that Hughes is "the one sure Negro classic, more certain of permanence than even Baldwin or Ellison or Wright. His voice is as sure, his manner as original, his position as secure as, say Edwin Arlington Robinson’s or Robinson Jeffers’. By molding his verse always on the sounds of Negro talk, the rhythms of Negro music, by retaining his own keen honesty and directness, his poetic sense and ironic intelligence, he maintained through four decades a readable newness distinctly his own." contains previously unpublished and repeatedly rejected poetry of Hughes from the 1930s.
Here, the editors have combined it with the artwork of elementary school children at the Harlem School of the Arts.
The elder Hughes came to feel a deep dislike and revulsion for other African-Americans.) Although Hughes had trouble with both black and white critics, he was the first black American to earn his living solely from his writing and public lectures.
Part of the reason he was able to do this was the phenomenal acceptance and love he received from average black people.