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Tess Keating Blog For 10/26

Before reading Langston Hughes’ poems I read about him and found this information to be very important. It is said that Hughes is known for being a poet who wrote about black people, but most importantly for black people. The messages of his poems were supposed to speak to that community. This helped me to read the poems with a different lens, allowing me to understand more deeply the meaning behind his words. For example, in his poem Dreams, reading this without knowing who it was for and with no context one might think Hughes was speaking to all people about following their dreams. However, having context of the type of poet Hughes was helped me to understand that he was speaking directly to his black audience telling them to never give up on their dreams (of equality) because if they do the world would be a dark place. 

Another poem I found interesting and quite sad was Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too? In this poem he is speaking to the American people, more specifically the white ones, asking what more he could possibly do to be considered an equal. The narrator describes how he fought for the country just the same as the white men, but the victory of the war won’t be the same for him because he was black. This was interesting to me because it alludes to the fact that on the battlefield the soldiers treated each other with respect, but off the battlefield everything is forgotten. It is sad to think that the only place black men were treated somewhat equally was in the dangerous place of the battlefield.

The poems I, Too and Let America Be America Again have a feeling of hope. With his words, Hughes explains that black people are just as American as white people and that someday all people will understand this. To my understanding, an overall message of all of Hughes’ poems is to have hope, keep fighting, and not give up on dreams. Reading about influential black leaders of the Civil Rights Movement Era always makes me wonder what they would think about what’s going on today. 

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3 Comments

  1. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    I can only imagine how important Hughes’ poetry that spoke from and for the black experience was during the early 1900s as African Americans were nearly never represented, or accurately represented. I think his voice for and to the black experience is what makes Langston such a long-lasting and influential voice, even in death, for America today as we now recognize how crucial it is to include all voices in order to have an equitable future.

  2. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    Reading context before was very smart. After reading your comment I went back to the poems and reread them. Hughes was a change maker and despite the many difficulties he faced in his life, he kept persevering and he encouraged others to do the same. While he wasn’t a direct figurehead in the Civil Rights movement, he was definitely a leader. As we know that MLK directly spoke about one of his poems in his “I Have a Dream Speech”. This relates back to the idea of figureheads and the people that are very important that are almost behind the scenes.

  3. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    It is so true that the audience for a work of art, poetry, music, etc is crucial knowledge to have when viewing it. While reading Langston Hughes poems I was able to see how his audience was his fellow black people and community. This aided in my understand of the poem’s meaning, purpose, value, and goals.

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