Langston Hughes’ collection of poems are great primary sources to look at when discussing the civil rights movement and the turbulent decades of the mid-twentieth century. Hughes wrote about the inequalities blacks would face in all aspects of life and touches on many important themes that the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement focused on. In Dreams, he stresses the importance of holding onto your dreams and not letting them die out. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also supported this message and famously emphasized it in his speech at the March on Washington. Hughes’ poems are always in the first person and take different perspectives that all African Americans could relate to. He writes as a student, a soldier, and many others. He creates a persona that embodies the feelings of being black at this time.
I enjoyed looking at this literature from a certain time in history to see how Hughes’ poems were in direct response to certain events. His poem Will V-Day be ME-Day Too? Is discussing the common consensus of black soldiers returning home after fighting in WWII. Many people believe that the Civil Rights Movement officially started after the war because people began to demand freedom and equality after fighting for their country abroad. These poems were all very topical when written and were intended to spark conversation within the audience about the state in which African Americans were treated in America. Hughes’ powerful messages had a direct impact on the movement and encouraged more people to speak up and realize they were not alone in this fight. I was trying to think about what forms of media/literature will be looked at in the future as the primary sources from the current BLM movement. The book The Hate U Give is one of my personal favorites and I bet it will be looked at as a great source from this time. Although it isn’t exactly a true story, it is modeled after many similar stories from this time about police brutality in America.