“I dream a world where man, no other man will scorn,” begins Google’s animated tribute to the quintessential poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes, who was born today in 1902.
Hughes, regarded as “The Bard of Harlem,” vivified African-American life in the 1920s through poems, novels, short stories, and plays. His book-length poem Montage of a Dream Deferred is a key touchpoint in the struggle for black equality.
Google’s homage is the work of in-house “doodler” Katy Wu. “This poem has a hopeful message and I like that,” explains Wu. “It comes from a time where there was a lot of work to be done for civil rights.” The former Pixar intern drew from the graphic design of jazz album covers from the 1930s and 1940s resulting in a style that is also recalls Andy Warhol’s inky drawing style and Joan Miro’s hand.
The lively 74-second montage is aptly set to a jazz segment by the The Boston Typewriter Orchestra, a six-member ensemble who makes music through rhythmic manipulation of typewriter keys. The last 13 seconds of the animation shows Google’s logo on a black field, perhaps a nod to the poet’s 113th birthday.
Today’s tribute is part of the Google’s Doodle project, a tradition that began in 1998 when company founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page superimposed their logo with the stick figure from the Burning Man Festival as their “out-of-office” notice. More than 2,000 commemorative Doodles have been created since.
The Langston Hughes tribute can be seen on the homepage of Google users in the US, UK, Lithuania, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and South Korea. February is Black History Month in the US and Canada.