Langston League’s Black History

Dear Scholars,

It’s me, Erica, the Chief Curriculum Officer and Founder of Langston League.

I have to be honest about how the idea for Langston League came to be. It was part frustration and part magical realism. I spent five years in Harlem educating the next generation. I was at the top of my game, working myself to the bone, and the results were pouring in.

But something didn’t feel right…

My ma read Langston Hughes to me while I was in the womb. The first book she ever purchased for me was a poetry anthology for children. I clung to Langston’s piece. I wanted everything he’d ever written.

The first time I saw journals in Bobby’s Department Store in Brooklyn, I told my mother, “I want to write like Langston.”

I clung to that notion and the new journal.

I wanted to travel back in time to the Harlem Renaissance. I wanted to read everything he ever wrote.

Simple Stories.

His friends:
Zora, Cullen, Nugent.
Letters with Arna Bontemps.

I loved him fiercely.

I got my first Harlem teaching job and I found out it was steps away from his home.

I started having my lunch on the steps. It was 2011. The house was closed up then.

I thought: Perhaps if I write and work here, I can soak up some of his energy. I took plenty of pictures there. I wrote lesson plans with my legs sprawled across the stairs he once climbed. I dreamed about my pen moving in the same direction as his.

Two very interesting things happened to me while sitting on those steps…

The 1st:

Someone told me a story of how the ivy on the house came to be. He told me that Hughes had befriended a neighboring botanist. He told his friend that he wanted people to know:

The poet lives here.

Since he could not alter the house, because the brownstone’s historical significance, the botanist assisted him.

There were doubts that such ivy could grow in this shady part of the neighborhood. I’m not sure if the story was true but the commentary of the ivy reminded me of some of the things said about my scholars. It’s why I took lunch on the staircase, careful not to let the commentary of others change my perceptions of the scholars I served. I wanted to ideate and innovate for them with no holds barred, with their interests at the tips of my fingers, and my mind focused on how I could help them grow.

Langston Hughes would have been furious to hear such doubt. He invested his time and creativity in so many programs that pushed scholars towards their most creative selves. He had a youth gardening program in his front yard. He was a patron of youth programs and an advisor to youth non-profits.

The 2nd: 

One day, I fell asleep on those steps.

It was only for a few minutes, but a young Black boy walked up to the steps with a black and yellow outfit and said, “Hi. I’m a student at Langston League.”

I woke up and realized that what I’d experienced wasn’t real but the name stuck with me.

I never stopped dreaming about it. Three years ago, I started Langston League.

It’s no coincidence that Langston Hughes’ birthday is also the start of Black History Month. He is Black History and beyond.

Langston League aims to go beyond, outside of the confines of a month, a week, or the sky.

Today Langston League has served scholars in six cities, two countries, and has over fifteen consultants. We are growing while we help others to do the same.

What better name to give a group of people that are passionate about their scholars of color seeing themselves in the world? What else do you name artisans that commandeer the page, stage, and the classroom? We create mirrors. Education is a mirror.

Like ivy, we rise to the sun.

Join us, today. 

Professional Development Consultation 
Curriculum Consultation 

Erica Buddington is a culture curator that designs culturally relevant curriculum, writes and performs work that reflects the diaspora, and is passionate about defying and decolonizing the status quo. It’s important to her that the people she serves see their reflections in the stories she tells, the instructional material she designs, and the way she presents herself.