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Jeffrey Sprung Blog Post for 9/26

The works of Langston Hughes, a 20th century African American poet and one of the prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance era, remain very powerful and relevant to this day. Langston Hughes used his poems in order to promote African American culture and express his desire for racial justice and equality in America. Hughes’ uses simple language and structure within his poems in order to provide insight on the struggles of Black Americans in the United States during World War II and leading up to the Civil Rights Movement.

In the poem, “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?” Hughes questions whether Black Americans enlisted in the Army, Navy, and Air Corps during World War II would be included and recognized in the celebration of Victory Day, the day that would signify the conclusion of World War II. Hughes argues that Black Americans in World War II “wear a U.S. uniform…have “done the enemy much harm..” and “face death the same as [white men] do…”  so therefore should be celebrated during V-Day of World War II, which I completely agree with. Hughes includes the fact that Black Americans were worried that they would be mistreated upon their return to the United States as he mentions “Will you still let old Jim Crow / Hold me back?” and “ Will I still be ill-fated / because I’m black?” Hughes’ sentiments within these lines represent the feelings of Black men who were fighting in World War II. It is awful that Blacks were not treated equally during World War II as they fought and died for the freedom of our country.

In the poem “Let America Be America Again,” Hughes highlights the struggles of Blacks due the immense racial inequality in the United States. Hughes questions the fact that America is the “Land of the Free” as he states “Who said the free? Not me?” Hughes protests the oppression of Blacks in the United States and advocates for racial and social equality of Blacks in the United States. Hughes message within this poem still is relevant to this day due to the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Langston Hughes poems were extremely impactful on society and contributed to the increase in racial equality and termination of racial segregation in the United States at the conclusion of the Civil Rights Movement.

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3 Comments

  1. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    In Langston’s “Let America Be America Again” I was most move hearing his argument that America was never America to him. That line resonated so heavily with me because it triggered me to think about how I will never understand how it feels to live in a country that does not value me equally. I will never understand how it feels like I do not belong in a country. I recognize this is my privilege, and I hope to find more ways to use my privilege for good.

  2. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    I think that the V day poem also brought to light a lot of the same points you talked about in the “let American be America again” poem. It gave me a different perspective to think about fighting a war for a country that did not guarantee your own personal freedom and equality, and I was able to think about and try to comprehend the types of struggles this would bring.

  3. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    I also really like “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?” because it uses personal pronouns to call attention to what Hughes views as the upcoming forgetting of the sacrifices made by African American and other minority troops. By repeating the word “I,” Hughes emphasizes the personal sacrifice made by ever soldier, no matter their skin color. Hughes then uses this empathy that he creates with the reader to make the reader think hard about why minority troops wouldn’t receive the same recognition as their white counterparts. Obviously, this gap in treatment is representative of a larger divide in American society, making this poem a part of civil rights literature.

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