Langston Hughes was one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, and his work is still widely used. His poems were written as a testament to his life as a black man in America, segregated by Jim Crow Laws, and oppressed by systematic discrimination.
One of the poems that really spoke out to me was Will V-Day be Me-Day Too? This poem highlights the real struggle of black Americans during times of war. Black men were expected to go to other countries and fight for America. To risk their lives for a country that treated them with hate, and oppressed them for its entire existence. Hughes says, “When I’ve helped this world to save, Shall I still be color’s slave? Or will Victory change Your antiquated views?” In these lines, Hughes asks if the sacrifice and dedication would make him more than his race, and make him an equal and respectable human in the eyes of the white people at the time. When they made the same sacrifices as white people, one would hope that in the end they would be considered equal. Yet this was not usually the case. It saddens me that so many black Americans risked their lives for a country that did nothing treat them as equal.
Another poem by hughes, Let America be America Again, Hughes brings up the American Dream. He bursts the bubble of the American Dream, calling into question everything it promised to him, the freedom and equality he still does not have. This connects to the poem we heard in the podcast, a dream deferred, which was a sad reality for most black Americans at the time. They were not “included” in the American dream simply because of the color of their skin.
The reading this week was extremely powerful, Langston Hughes’s words telling to the harsh realities of being a black American during this time period. It made me wonder if Langston was alive today, how he would write about the issues our country is currently facing>