Skip to content

Month: October 2020

Blog Post 10/28

Before reading this chapter I never really understood exactly what happened in Vietnam.  I knew about the Pentagon Papers and how the government was lying to the US public, yet it still never registered exactly how shady this war was.  I thought it was very interesting to see the differences for why we were going into war with Vietnam for example, Kennedy’s Undersecretary of State U. Alexis Johnson said, “Why is it desirable, and why is it important? First, it provides a lush climate, fertile soil, rich natural resources, a relatively sparse population in most areas, and room to expand. The countries of Southeast Asia produce rich exportable surpluses such as rice, rubber, teak, corn, tin, spices, oil, and many others.”  However Kennedy would talk about freedom and democracy, this is likely because of how the war would play out in the public.  

Further, I didn’t really know about the extent to which the US public disapproved of the war.  And, I find it interesting that Zinn doesn’t really mention the hippie movement in this chapter.  Because, I had always learned that it was the hippies who were really pushing against the war, while the “silent majority” still was in favor of the war.  Yet, Zinn cites polling showing that as the war went on, more and more people were in favor of pulling out of Vietnam immediately.  ZInn also writes about how the Civil Rights Movement coincided with the Vietnam War, and talks about how many activists were opposed to the war.  And, I found it interesting to see how connected the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement really were, as leaders of the Civil Rights Movement called for an end to the war.  Overall, I have a new appreciation for the History surrounding the Vietnam War.  I feel Zinn did a good job at enlightening me to new parts of the War that I didn’t know about before.

2 Comments

Blog Post 10/26

Vietnam has always been a question mark for me. I have never really understood all that unfolded during that era. All I knew is that a lot of people were dying, and people back home were outraged by our involvement in this war specifically. All of that being said it was awesome to be able to read about the reality of this war. It was rather disturbing unfortunately. I realized that the reason I was never taught about the Vietnam War was probably because the United States lied about much of what was unfolding in hopes of conveying the importance of our role to help calm the outraged citizens and protestors on the streets of America.

On top of this, the troops themselves were at a disadvantage. Much of the time spent in battle was spent under ambush attack. A major issue within the logistics of this war was that American troops didn’t know where or even who they were fighting a lot of the time. Making their performance and effectiveness plummet. President Nixon might be the most distasteful aspect of this tragic era in American history. Nixon ran on the promise and idea that if elected, he would get the US out of Vietnam and out of the war. Which once elected, proved to be a lie. The lives of thousands continued to be lost and the frustration and anger that Americans felt grew. I understand that it is our duty as a democracy to fight communism, but I don’t see how that can be an essential behavior when the efficiency in which you are fighting communism is so low. From my perspective, and I think the perspective of many Americans during the war it appears as though the Vietnam War was nothing more than a blood bath that resulted in lives lost and morale shattered.

7 Comments

Blog Post 10/28

I really enjoyed this chapter in Zinn’s book, and I actually took a lot of different pieces of information away from it. First, I thought it was really interesting that Eisenhower wondered how the language of fear and anti-communism is more powerful than the language or morale of democracy. This really struck me because it seems like throughout history the government is always finding a way to exploit fear in the American public to divide them instead of actually upholding their outward reputation of unity. It is the opposite of how a country should be run and the highest powers should not have to scare the population into going along with their plans. This is a big red flag that the government isn’t making a right or just decision if they have to make up lies and scare the public. Further, this shows how the government doesn’t really care for the emotional well-being of the public and prioritized military and economic advancements. I found the anti-communist rhetoric to also be interesting in contrast to the language of love and religion from Dr. King and the “Catonsville Nine”. These differing strategies of recruiting a following and employing leadership is definitely worth exploring further, and I wonder which is more efficient.

The language of division is present in the past regarding slavery and how the government used threatening language to instill fear in the poor whites to continue the use of slavery in the states. Dividing the public and making the different classes or races feel like enemies is a continued strategy for the government to further their own desires. The government and media collectively used this same strategy regarding the Vietnam War and claimed that only privileged middle-class Americans disapproved of the war. This could create division among the citizens and hinder future change, but I think that was their intention. Although the government tried to separate the public, I think it is really notable and striking that the isolated protests and the pushback from the war actually made a difference in international policy about the war. I don’t know why the government hates to admit that they are listening to the public and pretends like it is a weakness to change course or decisions. Nixon continued to push anti-communist and pro-war rhetoric even though he was aware it wasn’t working and he in fact was doing the opposite of what he was saying to the public. This lack of transparency isn’t sustainable and is the reason why Nixon and the Vietnam War failed drastically.

Going off of this last point, another main takeaway I took from this reading is that it truly takes a bottom-up approach from the citizens themselves to make a change. Even though the government may be hesitant to admit it, the citizens from any and every social class and racial or religious background have the capacity to make a difference. This chapter showed me that although it may be hard to see sometimes, the public does have a strong voice and we need to acknowledge that more. We must give ourselves more credit and not think that citizens need some powerful leader or a huge movement to get the government to listen.

3 Comments

Blog Post 10/28

Reading about the mistreatment of Vietnamese citizens by the United States during the Vietnam War was extremely difficult. Zinn stated “The CIA in Vietnam, in a program called “Operation Phoenix,” secretly, without trial, executed at least twenty thousand civilian in South Vietnam who were suspected of being members of the Communist underground”. (p. 478) The United States was determined to stop the spread of communism to the point that atrocities such as the 20,000 civilians Zinn mentions being murdered were viewed as inconsequential. Zinn discusses that the reasoning for the wars against communism in smaller nations, like Vietnam, were not because of the direct threat that Vietnam becoming communist would pose against capitalist nations, but rather to prevent a domino effect. In the 1950s this idea became known as “domino theory” within the United States and was responsible for much of their international actions. It would seem that American propaganda was so effective at inspiring fear of communism within its borders, that its population was willing to accept anti-communist reasoning for almost any action.

It was fascinating to learn that the United States not only fabricated much of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, but also the entirety of South Vietnam. As if lying to the public to incite a war wasn’t awful enough, congress further used the Gulf of Tonkin falsity to give President Johnson complete control over the military. Whenever a leader is given or seizes absolute power under the veil of a crisis, the people he is meant to protect almost always suffer. Citizens of the United States did suffer as a result of the president’s actions in the form of fighting and dying for a false cause. Per usual the main sufferers of war are not the leaders who involved their nation in the conflict, but the followers and citizens who had to actually fight the battles. The Vietnam war caused greater anger among the American people as it was based on a false cause and since the unnecessary suffering of the enemy was better documented in this war.

5 Comments

Blog Post 10/28 – Vietnam War

This reading was yet another example of the separation between the US government and the people, and the secrets and lies between them. In contrast to WWII, just before the Vietnam War, the Vietnam War was one of the most hated in all of history. Learning about the Vietnam War I had always been confused. I was mainly confused as to why we were at war, what we were fighting for and what was the reasoning, or why it went on for so long. After reading this chapter, it’s obvious many US citizens felt the same way during the war as well, which is why there was such a big antiwar movement. It makes it even more understandable when the government says it was to expel communism and keep freedom, but the actions of the government were far too violent and simply saying we wanted freedom for the Vietnamese and to expel communism was not enough.

Much of my surprise in this chapter came from the way the government handled the situation at home during the war. These massive anti war movements and protests were obvious and the heightened problem after the beginning of the civil rights movement created major divides in the country. I was surprised by how the government never really acknowledged the people’s opposition and only became more involved in the war. When Nixon was elected on the terms that he would get the US out of the Vietnam War and then only took some troops out but continued with the war, or how Kennedy lied about the beginning of the war, and all other lies that came with the war seems to be the most common theme in all of Zinn’s reading. The way the government almost ignored the people at home, and let them commit violent acts, protests, and get arrested while staying in a war where they were supposedly fighting against communism and freedom seems counterproductive. It makes me question what the real values of the US government were at the time.

Learning about the problems at home during the Vietnam War make it seem as though they were more concerning than those in Vietnam with the soldiers. Although, the government seemed only to care about the amount of power and influence we had in Vietnam and how much we fought, in the most brutal way. It’s obvious that the majority of people in the US were more concerned with problems at home than abroad, which was opposite of those felt by our political leaders, which clearly caused many problems.

4 Comments

Blog post for 10/28- Isa Keetley

The Vietnam War is somewhat of an enigma to me as I never really learned about it. In highschool my teachers tiptoed around the subject and only gave us bits and pieces; and I now understand why. The Vietnam War was very controversial and divided the United States even more than we already were at the time. And of course, in reading Zinn, it is expected that some of these hidden war truths were brought to the light.

Our entrance into Vietnam began eerily similar to our entrance to World War I, the enemy had displayed aggression towards us by “attacking” one of our ships. Thus, it was time to send troops over. However, Zinn challenges if this even happened, questioning LBJ’s ulterior motives to entering into this war. Especially because LBJ had deployed troops without asking Congress for approval, something that every president has to do before entering into war. In addition to this, the sentiment for fighting was to prevent the communism, however Zinn states that LBJ again, had other motives that had to do with the great amounts of natural resources in Vietnam. From the moment the US entered into the war, there was immediate backlash and resistance. Many men refused to enter the draft because they would be fighting a war that was not “their war”. In fact, the earliest opposition came from the Civil Rights movement, as Black men were dying at disproportionate rates to their white counterparts.

The war caused unrest in the states. Protests were happening everywhere, especially among students on university campuses. However, much like today, they often saw peaceful protests quickly turning violent. Whether this violence came from the police or people that believed opposing the war was treasonous, is hard to say. Despite this violence, people continued protesting. Nixon ran on the platform that he would end the war. While he did not end it, he brought home US troops. This can in part be a response to the seemingly never-ending protests that were still continuing throughout the country. Therefore, I ask, can protests still continue to influence change as they did during Vietnam? Or are they a hopeless cause with our current government and state of our nation?

4 Comments

Blog post for 10/28 M. Childress

Today’s reading was another example of the same narrative as we are getting accustomed to learning about. For as long as I can remember, I have always understood and been taught that the United States entered the Vietnamese war in order to expel communism and save the people of Vietnam. However, Zinn offers a different perspective that seems eerily similar to that of the revolution in the United States. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese revolutionist complained of being his people being abused and starved to death. Ordinarily, I would assume that the United States would have supported the oppressed, not help strong to economic incentives, but according to Zinn, it wasn’t the case (p. 471). I found it particularly interesting that the United States had a somewhat similar revolution not too long ago, in which a foreign ruler was treating the native population poorly, and those natives wanted change and were willing to make it happen. Furthermore, the methods used such a guerilla warfare were critiqued by America when used by the Vietnamese, but they weren’t too different from what the used in the American revolution. Specifically, John Mcnaughton’s tactic of flooding the rice fields (p. 481) reminds me of Sherman’s march. We tend to view Sherman’s march as unethical and as a tactic taken too far, but ironically in this instance it seems to be more acceptable.

The next point I found particularly interesting was the view and opinion of black men fighting in the war. As we have discussed in class, listening to Langston Hughes’ “Will V day be Me Day too?” poem, the black community struggled emotionally to fight a war for a country that did not entirely offer them the freedom, liberty, and equality it was giving the rest of its citizens, yet these blacks were being used to fight a war in the name of this same country. Blacks in Mississippi argued that “No Mississippi Negroes should be fighting in Viet Nam for the white man’s freedom, until all the negro people are free in Mississippi” (P. 484). This offers a very valid point that I had not considered much until taking this class.

With this being said, however, I struggle with this topic a little bit more than others we have covered. I have family members who fought in the Vietnamese war. I have heard their stories and listened to their trials  while on this journey, so I am partial to this cause. Zinn offers a very drastically different viewpoint than what we are used to hearing. As I have had very close relationships with people who have fought this war, it is difficult for me to completely buy in to Zinn’s argument that the entire war was for American economic prowess, and that everyone fighting the war was either 100% on board for doing whatever was necessary to keep America atop the economic leaderboard, or so violently opposed to the war that they were thrown in jail.

3 Comments

10/28

What strikes me after reading Zinn was the 1968 My Lai massacre. It seems that these actions by the United States were like a “just because” action; no real meaning to methodically kill women, children, and elders. The part that really makes me question the United States and truth-telling is that the United States tried to cover up killing innocent women, children, and elders. Considering that only one officer was convicted of this crime just shows the idea that the United States tries to cover up and hid a lot. There were other incidents of killing that made it seem that the Americans generals really did approve of and support the bombing of the civilians.

 

Seeing that Nixon campaigned to and promised that he’d end Vietnam was semi-promising. We see that yes, he did remove troops out of Vietnam over his time in office, but he continued the military’s policies; bombing civilians…  He didn’t end the war in Vietnam he just made Americans believe that’s what he did. What concerns me, in the end, is how many military unknowns are there? What is still being covered up? Will we ever understand what the United States is telling us, versus what they aren’t telling.

3 Comments

Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 10/28

There were a few elements of Zinn’s chapter “The Impossible Victory: Vietnam” that stood out to me. The first idea that caught my attention was the important of religion in Vietnam and how Diem’s religious affiliation was important to how people reacted to his regime. I didn’t know that majority of people in South Vietnam were Buddhist but Diem was a Catholic. For these reasons, monks began to commit suicide with the intentions of opposing the Diem regime and advocate for Buddhism. It’s also interesting that Diem was closer to landlords while the country mainly consisted of peasants. I think we see similar things in the US where the political elites or those in power don’t reflect the demographic make-up or ideologies of the nation. This is seen by our long history of having white middle-aged men as our presidents, with Obama being the exception. This leads to the next point about how different movements and historical events are interconnected. I found it interesting that there are so many parallels between religion, the Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement. To me, it seemed as though the NLF or National Liberation Front and rise of the civil rights movement were similar not because of their agendas but because they were groups that would speak out against the government.

I think this time called for activism and for people to speak up for what they believe in. This is evident when looking at all the anti-Vietnam War protests and activism that initially came from the civil rights movement. The civil rights agenda was much less radical than the NLF but both groups had ideas that the government didn’t agree with for the most part. The NLF advocated for communism which is also something that we discussed Langston Hughes as being an advocate for who was also a key advocate for the civil rights movement. Going back to the idea that opposition to the war originated from the civil rights movement, and ultimately gained support from the Catholic Church shows how connected religion and ideology is. Another topic that was interesting but not surprising was how Nixon dealt with the war after he got into office. He had originally promised to get the US out of Vietnam, but as many politicians do, he didn’t actually stick to what he had promised the American people. Instead of implementing an isolationist policy, he created this policy of “Vietnamization” in which in order to ultimately remove the US from the affairs, he helped South Vietnamese forces both financially and militaristically. This seems contradictory to me in a way because he provides more support and thus gets the US more involved in the war when his ultimate goal is removing the US from the war.

1 Comment

The Vietnam War

In my education, I did not learn much about the Vietnam War. From what I did learn, our teachers did not discuss how much opposition there was to the war effort. So, hearing the statistic that that “By May 1971… 61 percent thought out involvement was wrong” was striking to me. Public opinion changed so drastically and shows how the United States government failed with this war. There are always going to be antiwar movements, but in Zinn’s chapter it truly sounds like the vast majority of America was not in favor of the war.

The part that stood out to me the most is that the antiwar movement involved varying demographics of people. In most of our history, it seems that a certain demographic/socio-economic class is on each side and divides the country, but in this instance, that was not the case. Protestors included students in the middle and working-class, soldiers and veterans, civil rights activists, priests and nuns, women and men, and even citizens in the upper-class.  I have never read about a war that had such resistance and created this large of a population with mutual beliefs. The war united the population. Although, not surprisingly, the media still tried to portray that there were people in support of the war. “It seems that the media themselves controlled by a higher-education, higher-income people who were more aggressive in foreign policy, tended to give the erroneous impression that working-class people were superpatriots for the war”. Zinn makes a clear argument that the working-class people were actually quite against the war.

This narrative of the Vietnam War alludes to the fact that the protesting American citizens really did play a significant part in ending the unnecessary Vietnam War, which is a rare and empowering event in our history that shows the power of the people, and that I think needs to be discussed more.

3 Comments

Post 10/28

Zinn states in this chapter that once again the reason for the United States of America entering the war was not just. Lyndon B. Johnson entered the war over events surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin, but it is stated that there was actually no open aggression against America.  American leaders often commit to wars without fully weighing the implications of the war and the impact it will have on the American people.  Johnson did not ask for permission from congress before deploying troops in Vietnam, which makes the government seem like a dictatorship.  Is the American government so disorganized that it can not even enforce its policies within the white house?  Learning this from the reading makes me even more worried about the upcoming elections, because the wrong president has even more power than I thought.  After reading this, I would like to learn more about the strength of checks and balances in the American democracy today.

 

I think there is an interesting connection between the actions of American military officers in Vietnam and police officers today.  Zinn describes military officers murdering women, children, and elderly and trying to cover it up.  Some of the officers failed to cover it up, and they were tried for their actions.  Only one military officer was convicted.  Police brutality in America is in the spotlight along with the black lives matter movement.  It is very disappointing to know that we made these mistakes in the act of war, and we are continuing to make these mistakes within our own borders.  There are clearly problems with the American legal system if people can get away with doing horrible things like the things described above.  History continues to repeat itself in different forms, and it is disappointing to see we are not improving the country at a significant rate.  I think Zinn’s historical book is a must read for anyone pursuing public office in America.  If people in office can learn from all the many mistakes Zinn outlines throughout American history, I believe the country will be much better off.

1 Comment

Blog Post for 10/28/20

In Zinn’s chapter and the two YouTube videos, we learned all about the Vietnam War. There were two things that stood out to me most. The first was how much people protested the war, yet it still continued. The second is how many people were against the war.

The protests began with drafts. No one understood why we were in the war and no one wanted to be drafted. There were loopholes such as no one in college could be drafted, but these loopholes separated certain groups, such as the rich from the poor. Along with this, many protested the actual war, because they didn’t understand why we were involved. Even college students started protesting. Specifically from the video, we learn about Kent University protests, which ended in 4 students who were shot and killed and many others injured by the national guard. The national guard just said they felt threatened when the students started throwing rocks, but I bet the students could have said they also felt threatened when the national guards started coming closer with rifles. Zinn also discusses when he was a professor at Boston University and students there were protesting. It took years for Americans to gain trust in the military, government and White House again.

The other part that stood out to me was in Zinn’s chapter, “The Invisible Victory,” was when he discussed the extent to which Americans were protesting. I think one thing he mentions that really shows how badly people didn’t want to be at war, was that everyone had the same opinion. Different classes of wealth, different political parties, and even different races all came together to protest. From Lewis Lipsitz’s survey, a popular theme among blacks and whites in the south was, “The only way to help the poor man is to get out of that war in Vietnam… These taxes – high taxes- it’s going over yonder to kill people with and I don’t see no cause in it” (492). What this view shows is that the rich actually didn’t care that they’d be giving some of the money to poorer people, as long as it wasn’t going to the war, they’d be happy. Zinn also states, “most of the antiwar action came from ordinary GIs, and most of these came from lower-income groups – white, black, Native American, Chinese, and Chicano” (495). I think this quote, and the idea of people coming together for one mutual belief, stuck out to me most because it’s something we still rarely see today.

2 Comments

Blog Post 10/28

Throughout this chapter, Zinn talks about US involvement in the Vietnam War and how the United States ultimately failed. Zinn talks about the reasoning to why the West was so persistent in controlling Indochina from the rebels. The United States, as well as the rest of the western countries, were scared of the “domino theory.” The domino theory is the concept that a political event happens in one country, neighboring countries would follow. The West was scared of communism spreading, so they took more drastic measures to try and stop the rebels. Eventually, in 1954, the French withdrew from Vietnam; however, the United States stayed. The United States took control of South Vietnam to prevent them from joining the north in the rebellion. The United States had other reasoning to be persistent in this war. The United States did not want to lose business in Southeast Asia. This is another example of the United States fighting for different intentions then what first is shown to the public.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson declared war on Vietnam over a stretched truth. He, as well as other powerful officials, lied to the public by saying that Vietnam attacked some of the American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. This to me is where the divide between the public and government really started to get out of hand. The United States started bombing Vietnam in attempts to destroy their morale, but instead, the bombs mostly hit the civilians. 1968 is when the common people really started to get tired of the war and doubted the chances the United States had to win. Protests started emerging in the United States and young men started to refuse to join the draft. Eventually, this strong opinion created by the people influenced the United States to pull troops out of Vietnam. Overall, this was a terrible move by the United States to join and stay involved in this war for so long. All it created was mass suffering for civilians in Vietnam and for families of dead soldiers in America. The United States was defeated in this war, and it was entirely their fault for joining a war with an impossible chance to win.

3 Comments

Blog Post; 10/26

In Zinn’s chapter, “The Impossible Victory: Vietnam”, he discusses the Vietnam war and the role that the U.S played as well as the intense anti-war movement on the home front. In previous history classes, I never really was given an in-depth understanding of the Vietnam War. I was very surprised and horrified by the actions and treatment of the Vietnamese from the American military and the police of Diem. The accounts from My Lai and the droppings of bombs on the “free fire zones” showed a horrific and inhuman side of U.S involvement that was not publicized to the American public. I thought an interesting part of the chapter was how the major destruction and firepower from the U.S did not destroy the NLF’s morale or will to fight. This created doubt within the American people because they were confused why the war was not ending yet or why the U.S was not winning. The common theme of the American government withholding the truth and telling lies to the public was a large aspect of the Vietnam War. The report from Jerome Doolittle expressed this theme as he was describing how everyone involved knew that everything being told were lies, “After all, the lies did serve to keep something from somebody, and the somebody was us” (483). This was until the American people began to realize the cruel realities of the war and caused major opposition. 

I was impressed while reading about the large growth and determination of American people opposing the war. Prominent Civil Rights Movement figures were among the first to oppose with Muhammad Ali refusing to serve and MLK pleading an end to the war. I thought one of the most prominent and perhaps most effective opposition groups were the thousands of men refusing the draft or their call to serve. People were even refusing to train soldiers because they did not want to be involved in the murder of innocent people. The power of the opposition within the U.S and how groups from all parts of society joined the anti-war effort shows how important it was to Americans 

4 Comments

Blog Post for 10/28/20

In this chapter Zinn discusses the Vietnam War. Specifically, the history behind Vietnam and the positions that the US decided to take. I never learned about the French involvement in Vietnam. The French occupied Vietnam for a considerably amount of time leading up to the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese people however, were not fans on the French occupation. The Vietnamese felt, “They enforced inhuman laws…built more prisons than schools…mercilessly slain our patriots…they have drowned uprising in rivers of blood. They have fettered pubic opinion…robbed us of our rices fields, our mines, our forests….invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people … to a state of extreme poverty.” (470) The Vietnamese rallied behind Ho Chi Minh, a communist revolutionary leader. This scared the American people. This was in the late 40’s early 50’s a time when the red scare was eminent in the US. The United States feared a domino effect would take over Southeast Asia and leave US interests in Asia compromised. The domino effect being one country falling to communist rule and many others following. The US was so scared of this that we provided substantial military aid to the French to help them maintain control in Vietnam. Americans knew that , “If the French…decided to withdraw the U.S. would have to condor most seriously wether to take over in this area.” (472) So when in 1954 the French withdrew from Vietnam due to profuse pubic support of Ho Chi Minh the United States had to decide wether or not to get involved in Vietnam. Due to intense fear of Communism 10 years later in 1964, “President Johnson used a turkey set of events in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of North Vietnam, to launch a full scale war” (475). This chapter surprised me. I never learned about any sort of French connection with Vietnam. Is that because the US didn’t get involved until 10 years after French withdrawal? Would the United States have gotten so involved in Vietnam if the French had maintain their occupation there? Was the red scare a valid fear for the Americans to have at the time?

Leave a Comment

Margot Roussels Blog Post 10-27

Langston Hughes poems show his skill of proses, but he also uses them as a vehicle to get his message out. Some of his poems are more direct in the point they want to convince the audience while others are vaguer. In his poem Over There, / World War II, Hughes uses thinly veiled questions and similes to question Americans on if they will treat African Americans as equals after they return from the war. African Americans were subjected to Jim Crow laws and voter suppression despite fighting and dying for their country. He acknowledges how ridiculous this seems because he is basically fighting to be a second-class citizen.

I found this poem particularly moving because fighting in the military is one of the highest honors and people continuously try to recognize these people by calling them heroes or giving them discounts at store. Moreover, this poem is in response to African Americans not getting to receive the benefits outlined in the GI Joe bill that gave people that fought in the war a right to a free education and to affordable housing. This supplies context to the piece and allows readers to understand where Langston Hughes frustration was coming from and what he was trying to achieve: getting African American soldiers be included in the GI Joe act.

Leave a Comment

Morgan Crocker Blog Post 10/26

Langston Hughes was a famous 20th century African American poet, and was one of the main known figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Langston Hughes used his poems to express African American culture and his hope for equality and racial justice in America. Throughout school in history classes I actually learned a lot about Langston Hughes, I even had to memorize some of his poems and be able to recite them in middle school. So I was happy to continue reading and learning about Langston Hughes and his poems.

One of his poems that really caught my attention was “Let America Be America Again” in this poem Langston Hughes really shows the disparities in American prosperity. Langston Hughes basically challenges America to live up to what the founders wanted America to look like. He believes to be able to do that America has to rebuild itself instead of just fixing what is already there, because the system is broken. Hughes shows the readers how African Americans struggle immensely because of racial inequality in America, he basically states in the land of the free African Americans still aren’t free. Due to how oppressive the system is for African Americans in America.

3 Comments

Sam Hussey Blog Post 10/26

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. 

4 Comments

Annie Waters 10/26/20

Langston Hughes’s “Theme for English B” highlights the great complexity of racial identities in a country that enforces racial hierarchies. As he mimics his thought process in writing an English paper that the professor has requested to “come out of [him],” he questions the individuality of his own identity and whether anything he produces can truly originate from only him. He expresses that he is not just himself, but also a voice for his community as he says ” … But I guess I’m what/I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.” Through Hughes’s connections to Harlem, his writing is inherently influenced by Harlem, and thus his words, in essence, are Harlem, characterizing them by the experiences of this overexploited black community. Hughes goes further to describe the social interconnection between races in America, challenging society’s hierarchal view on race. He expresses he and his professor influence one another. Thus, Hughes’s works are influenced by the expertise of a white man and are therefore partially “white” while his professor is influenced by the scholarship of a black student and therefore has an identity partially molded by the positions of black individuals in society. Hughes asserts that though black and white individuals may want to hold completely separate identities, their social connections make this impossible. This rejects the idea that white people have any sense in viewing themselves as above black people or in ignoring the fight for black liberation on the grounds that they have directly benefited from the work of black people and for the sake of unity owe to them a fight for equality.

In “Will V-Day be Me-Day Too?” Hughes illustrates the exploitation of black men in combat. He develops this theme into the question as to whether the US is as concerned with its domestic issues (i.e. the oppression of black citizens) as it is with its foreign issues and international dominance. He writes “When we see Victory’s glow,/Will you still let old Jim Crow/Hold me back?”. In this, he questions whether the narrator’s contributions to the country’s military success will allow him to be deemed deserving of equality in his civilian life. He questions whether the United States’ concern for national defense will be paralleled by a national concern for the defense of the rights of black citizens. As someone contributing to the prosperity of the country, the black soldier narrating should undeniably be able to benefit from a national victory, but his references to Jim Crow reveal that the country is apathetic toward the idea of extending its success to the national black population.

3 Comments
css.php