Scarcely twenty years old, he published his hugely influential poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" in The Crisis in 1921.
In his 20s, Hughes traveled extensively around the world, and spent time in Europe (England and Paris) as well as West Africa, before returning to the U.S., where he lived for a time with his mother in Washington, DC. Hughes enrolled in Lincoln University, a historically Black university outside of Philadelphia, and completed a B.A. degree there in 1929.
Hughes' reputation was strengthened by the prominent place he was assigned in numerous Harlem Renaissance anthologies, including Alain Locke's The New Negro: an Interpretation..