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When Hughes was small, his father left his mother and moved to Cuba and then Mexico to escape the racism of the United States. \n\nHughes lived with his grandmother in Missouri, while his mother was forced to travel in search of work. The poem presents advice given by a mother to her son, and is most likely based upon stories Hughes' mother told him about her struggles, when they finally settled down together in Ohio.\n\nHughes moved to New York in his twenties. Once settled in New York he became part of the Harlem Renaissance - a movement in which African Americans sought to combat racism and establish a unique cultural voice through literature, music and the arts. Hughes was strongl