While at Lawrence’s Central Junior High School, Langston Hughes challenged his teacher when she seated all the Black children in a single row, at the back of the classroom. In an act of civil disobedience, he made and placed cards on the Black students’ desks that said “Jim Crow Row.” Assisted by a friend, he threw the extras out of the window and onto the school yard. In retribution, the school expelled him and his co-conspirator.

Langston’s Lawrence explores the meaning of this event for Hughes’s development as writer, social activist, and champion of human rights.