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Artists Plan to Turn Langston Hughes’s Home into Nonprofit for Harlem’s Cultural Legacy

Harlem-based artists launch initiative to convert poet laureate Langston Hughes’s house into a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Harlem’s cultural legacy, Tom Kutsch of The Guardian reports.

African American writer Renée Watson, who is spearheading the project, is hoping to raise $150,000 on the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo and has already received more than $78,000 in donations. Watson said, “For the past ten years, I’ve walked past the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and wondered why it was empty. How could it be that his home wasn’t preserved as a space for poets, a space to honor his legacy? I’d pass the brownstone, shake my head, and say, ‘Someone should do something.’ I have stopped saying, ‘Someone should do something’ and decided that someone is me.”

As executive director of the I Too, Arts collective—a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts—Watson aims to raise enough money to lease and renovate Hughes’s Harlem brownstone, where the writer worked from 1947 until he died in 1967.

“There has been an outpouring of support and encouragement from both the local community as well as the larger community of poets and writers,” Watson said. “In a place like Harlem, I believe it’s important to hold on to the tangible places where black artists lived and created.”