Langston Hughes, 1925, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore – And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load or does it just explode?”
Langston lived in a world tarnished by awful racism. Blacks declared free in 1863 were still in shackles by the terrible discrimination of his day. Prejudice and poverty filled his life in Harlem, yet he produced such poetry that transcends the ages.
Langston Hughes, 1938, “Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain seeking a home where he himself is free! (America never was America to me.) Let America be the dream the dreams dreamed –”
Langston understood the plight of blacks. But not only the blacks, all those oppressed. Immigrants, non-Christians, all those labeled as anti-American and everyone defeated by stereotypes and prejudices. He professed, “Let America be the dream it used to be.” He dreamt of the day when that pure innocent America would return. His contribution to society was his dream to see equality for all. Civil and economic equality for everyone.
Still, what do I believe? What do I know? I am a typical Caucasian teenage kid living in a middle class town. I’ve never seen or experienced hardship. I’ve never faced the trials Langston was put through. How can I possibly relate to the messages of hate and poverty and prejudice?
Langston showed me what I had never seen before. I don’t foresee it ever happening again. I can’t imagine another day when discrimination dominates. I’ve tried to write poetry that has a candid meaningful message, but to no avail.
Langston is articulate, yet he is more. He is eloquent and elegant. His is visionary. His words have magnetism. His dreams and ideas are being accomplished and his messages have reached their audiences and they are listening. Prejudice, although still living, dies a little more everyday as the opportunity; the dream to prove yourself has been given to all. I believe in the power of Langston Hughes.
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