Thursday, March 24, 2011

“Let America Be America Again”

Langston Hughes was born in 1902 and died in 1967. During his 65 years, he was a novelist, playwright, short story writer, columnist, and poet. He wrote from his experience as an African American in America. One of his poems, Let America Be America Again, captures the possibility of America, the dream that is at the core of the Nation. In between the stanzas in the excerpt below, Hughes makes comments about the reality that this dream is not his experience of America, yet he yearns for the dream of America to become a reality.

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.

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

The poem ends with these words:
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Each day as you work with all of the young people in your program, especially those who need a level playing field, remember the words of this poem. Remember also that you are an integral part of “We, the people.”

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