John Mercer Langston
On November 15, 1897, John Mercer Langston, great uncle of the magnificent poet and writer Langston Hughes passed in the eternal lands of our black ancestors. John Langston was born a free black on December 14, 1829, in Louisa County, Virginia. He was born 35 years before the end of the Civil War eliminated slavery. So, John Mercer Langston dedicated that period of his life to supporting actively abolitionist's cause dedicated to removing the shackles of oppression from our ancestors. He also was instrumental in leading the cause during the Civil War to promoting blacks to join the union and defeat all elements of the Confederacy.
In his remarkable life, John Mercer Langston accomplished so much to deliver uplift to our ancestors. He was indeed quite a brilliant man whose achievements were so rewarding that he was honored at his passing by a town in Oklahoma being named for him. Along with Langston, Oklahoma, the Langston College the only historically black in that state also located in Langston, Oklahoma carries his name as well.
John Mercer Langston's firm belief that blacks be truly elevated to full first-class citizenship and have the legal protections inherent in that standing, lead to John Mercer Langston being one of the founders as well as the first dean of the prestigious Howard University School of Law. Mr. Langston also served as interim president of Howard University as well. He served as the first President of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, now Virginia State University, located in Petersburg, Virginia. Still, today both Howard University and Virginia State University continue to follow in the tradition of the spirit of black uplift that earmarked the life of John Mercer Langston.
John Mercer Langston was also one of the Capitol Men, black men elected to Congress during the period of Reconstruction. John Mercer Langston was one of the last of the elected black representative in Congress because Reconstruction was in the process of being dismantled. He was allowed only to serve one term before the white southern democrats moved back into power and unleashed the beginnings of one hundred years of racial dominance.
The genes of John Mercer Langston were replete with a brilliance that favored our community, and communities all over the world. His great-nephew was one of the most heralded writers of all time, Langston Hughes. So today when "The Black Blogger" reflects back on the life of John Mercer Langston, he marvels at the role this ancestor has played and actually continues to play in building better tomorrows. Even though he passed away 121 years ago today "Langston Effect" continues to build on his original intent, building communities centered around black unity and pride.