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Month: October 2020

Julia Leonardi // 10.25.2020

I was excited about this blog post assignment because it is slightly different from the other ones we have done. Langston Hughes is one of the most influential and infamous poets of the 20th century. I can confidently say most of us have encountered one of his poems throughout our school career. One of his most famous poems is “Harlem,” a poem that was not part of our assignment; he was able to touch many of our minds.

“Dreams” was a similar poem, and it serves as inspiration. Hughes encourages the reader to hold on to their dreams and not let go of them because life is bleak without dreams. The poem that really touches me, though, is “Theme for English B.” When the teacher tells him to write and let the page come out of him, it is encouraging to the reader, but he then explains his life. It is so important to see his narrative in this poem. It touches on the complexity of race and society. A poem that describes so much is so important for people to read, especially white people. It is interesting to note that the narrator says that the assignment will not fully represent him.


Blog Post for 10/26- Zachary Andrews

I liked this weekends Blog Post Assignment because I don’t frequently read poetry. The Langston Hughes poems that we read were overall very powerful and insightful; however, there were two poems that stuck out to me the most. The first poem that stuck out to me is titled Dreams. Although the poem is only eight lines long, it truly speaks to the reader. The poem talks about how you should hold onto your dreams because if you do not, then you are not going to live life to its fullest. From there, the poem adds onto the first point by stating that you need to hold onto your dreams because if not, “Life is a barren field, Frozen with snow.” Without dreams and aspirations, life is boring and hard. Those dreams and aspirations allow people to have a more fulfilling and exciting life. I believe that this poem is very important because in modern society, a persons day is very repetitive. Often times, people repeat the same task almost every single day which can get very boring. This poem essentially encourages the reader or listener to continue to dream and follow those dreams.


The second poem that was very powerful and meaningful was Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too? This poem not only talks about the Second World War but also describes an individual and his experience in the war. More specifically, he talks about how he has “driven back the Germans and the Japs, From Burma to the Rhine.” In addition to that, the individual talks about how he watched his friend die. He promised that he would try to make America a place where the dying man’s son could live without Jim Crow. The title of the poem is a question asking that once the war is over, will African Americans finally become equals and live without Jim Crow. He then talks about hos the Italians, Chinese, Danes have all been liberated but the black community still has not been. I believe that this poem is very powerful because thousands of African Americans fought in the war hoping that when they returned, they would finally be liberated. Unfortunately, when they returned they were still treated the same as before the war. The shame is that the black community supported the American war effort and fought for democracy, freedom, and everything else that the United States represents; however, they were fighting for things that they didn’t have. Overall, I really enjoyed reading the poems by Langston Hughes but the two that are mentioned above stood out to me the most.

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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.


Christopher Wilson’s Blog Post 10/26

One of Langston Hughes’ poems that I connected with is “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?” Hughes begins this poem by specifically addressing his fellow Americans- white Americans on the homefront and fighting in WWII. By doing this, Hughes does not neglect to mention that black Americans are also on the homefront and fighting in WWII as it underscores one of the primary messages of this poem. In response, I felt that Hughes asserts that African Americans should not be treated differently when they have made the same commitments to upholding American democracy domestically and internationally as their white counterparts. Two, the U.S. cannot justly say that they’ve succeeded in freeing individuals from institutional injustice and inequality, such as German Jews, yet do nothing to eliminate Jim Crow laws that affect the African American community. Lastly, I feel that Hughes questions what V-Day- Victory Day- means to African Americans who are still in bondage in the “land of the free.” In other words, he is urging white America to critically re-examine the pride they gained from their victory in WWII because the American homefront still has pervasive social inequalities and injustices affecting black America.  

On that note, I am not surprised by Langston Hughes’ influence in America during the 20th century. I am surprised to hear that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not credit Hughes in his “I Have a Dream” speech. I wonder why this silence continued in history, even in the black community. This reminds me of when they call you a terrorist: a black lives matter memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele. I remember that in this memoir, Patrisse- one of the founding members of the Black Lives Matter Movement- says that the federal government classified her and other members of her family and friends as terrorists for their anti-racist activism. On that note, I would say that invisible leadership can also evolve out of the federal government’s reaction and response to the voices of people who are not white and wealthy.


Charley Blount Blog Post 10/26

Throughout history, our country has been advertised as a beacon of liberty and freedom. In reality, those ideals are nothing more than dreams for Many Americans. Langston Hughes uses his poems to discuss the racial and economic inequities that persist in America, despite the encouraging rhetoric that is promulgated by white, wealthy America. In his poem, “Let America Be America Again, Hughes acknowledges disparities in American prosperity, saying, “I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek— And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak” (Hughes). Hughes first identifies the large swaths of the population that face oppression every day, then criticizes the capitalist structure of our American economy that stimulates class divisions that often fall along racial lines. In a much more individual sense, Langston is describing “the man who never got ahead” because of financial restrictions or racial discrimination.

Hughes’ criticism of the status quo is only part of “Let America Be America Again.” In the latter half of the poem, Hughes challenges the United States to live up to the lofty ideals that the founders set for the nation. Hughes says, “O, let America be America again—The land that never has been yet—And yet must be—the land where every man is free” (Hughes). Hughes argued that the United States could not continue to hide behind the guise of universal opportunity and equality. According to Hughes, in order to achieve this vision, the United States must rebuild itself rather than attempting to work within the constraints of a broken system manufactured to perpetuate discrimination and economic inequities.



Carly 9/26 Post

The Harlem Renaissance time period was one of promise and opportunity for African Americans after so much hardship. By no means was racism elimited, but after the Great Migration where so many blacks moved to the north, they were met with much more opportunity than before. Amongst African Americans who made an impact on the Harlem Renaissance time period was poet Langston Hughes. Hughes was different because he did not sugar coat things. His poems tell it how it is, and he has gained a lot of respect over the years for simply saying things without fear of backlash. 

One poem that really stood out to me was the poem, “I, Too.” In this piece, Hughes emphasizes that even though he is black, he too is still an American and deserves to be treated with the same fairness as other white Americans. The line that stood out to me the most was when he explains, “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table When company comes. Nobody’ll dare Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,” Then.” This line makes me happy that even in hard times with so much discrimination and racism, Hughes thinks of a better tomorrow when he is not degraded for being black. Overall, I respect the way Hughes is not afraid to say things without sugar coating it. He was a very brave and well regarded man.



Blog Post for 10/26

I had heard the name Langston Hughes before listening to the podcast and reading the reading assigned, but I never knew the true significance of his work and his voice in the Civil Rights movement until learning a bit more about him. Although it is sad, many of his poems that we read for class still ring true and hold similar senitments for the America we live in today, in the twenty-first century. One particular example of this that stood out to me was his poem Let America Be America Again. Over the events of the recent months in light of police brutality and the strengthening of the Black Lives Matter movement, I have read many resources that question the validity of “the American Dream”, the idea that anyone can come to America and rise up from poverty to great wealth due because we are a land of freedom, equality, and opportunity. By learning more about the experiences, both past and present, of Americans with less privilege than myself, it is clear that opportunities are not always equally distributed to all members of society. Generational poverty, heavy police presences leading to mass incarceration, and lack of proper educational and community programs, disproportionally centered in non-white areas, create systems that make it harder for some than for others to get the most basic of opportunities such as a job or an education. Systemic racism makes living while being a BIPOC inherently more difficult than living while white, due to racism embedded in police and justice systems meant to protect and serve our communities. This greatly calls into question the idea of the American Dream for every person, when millions of people are disadvantaged just because of their status at birth. Hughes’s poem Let America be America Again calls upon this in a direct way, stating that the America promoted in the American Dream and the idealized version of the country never truly existed for people who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, etc. It also is similar to Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” tagline, which implies that there was an America before when people had more rights and life was better, despite the fact that this America never existed for those who are systemically disadvantaged. Although saddening, Hughes’s works give great insight and inspiration to the voices of the Civil Rights movement, and to the issues we are still working to overcome today.

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Blog Post 10/26

As I read each poem by Langston Hughes, I noticed a common pattern that ran throughout each work. It seems that each poem expressed Hughes’ yearning to express himself in his full capacity, but coming across something that was holding him back. Although it was symbolized in different forms, its safe to say this blocking force is the segeregation and racism toward black Americans that Hughes experienced throughout his life.

I found Hughes message in “Will V-Day be Me-Day too?” to be quite powerful. The comparisons Hughes makes specifically to thew Germans and the way they treated the Jews really stuck with me. Although the US never went to the extremes the Nazis did during WW2, I found it ironic that a country could preach about how its wrong to treat another people differently when that same country is still streating its own people differntly based on their skin color. I also found it thought-provoking when Hughes asked if he would be “safe from harm” when he took off his uniform. I found it sad that white people would only cheer on black people when they went out to put their life on the line for a country that frankly didn’t care much for them. And I found it even sadder that as soon as they came back from this dangerous mission, they were still treated as if nothing had changed.


Demaret Blog Post 10/26


I’d like to situate Langston Hughes’ poems into the context of the Harlem Renaissance, specifically the rise of artistic works that reflected the generational trauma of Black Americans. The Great Migration, recently described by many scholars as a refugee phenomenon, led to massive demographic shifts and population surges in northern cities. In New York City, the Harlem neighborhood found itself at the center of a major creative movement dominated by Black authors, artists, and more. Langston Hughes was a powerful literary model for the Harlem Renaissance, shaping the concept of universality of Black trauma in literary works at a time where many American poets were writing intrinsically focused works (

Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again” portrays a unique sense of generational trauma that is often manifested in many Harlem Renaissance works. He directly connects the positions of where him and other Black Americans stood to the anguish of their ancestors. The lines “And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!” (Hughes 1936) communicated a sense that whatever American dream was being promoted to the public did not apply to the oppressed. To Hughes, the America he lived in never escaped the wrath of white supremacy, let alone one that moved passed the haunting framework of slavery. 

Basic historiography tends to divide eras among progress. It is often oversimplified that slavery started, then slavery ended. Segregation started, then segregation ended. While advanced historiography recognizes the continuity of patterns across times and geographical scales, the general American public often fails to recognize the extent that institutions of white supremacy damage generations of progress for the oppressed. The collected works of Langston Hughes communicate this generational trauma not only as it affects him, but how it hurts his fellow community members as well. The American racial framework was not scrapped with the abolition of slavery- it merely adjusted and continued to oppress. Where historians can draw a direct connection of power structures from chattel slavery to Jim Crow to today, entire generations of Black families experience the trauma of ancestry that faced brutal institutions of white supremacy. Hughes and other Harlem Renaissance creators should be looked towards as leaders for those who create true societal power out of art and literature.


“Langston Hughes.”, Academy of American Poets, 

“Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes – Poems | Academy of American Poets.”, Academy of American Poets, 

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Blog post for 10/26

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>

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Blog Post 10/26

The poems written by Langston Hughes were extremely powerful. Not only did they invoke emotion, but also called for action in America. After listening to the podcast, it is clear that Langston was an influential individual. In fact, MLK alluded to Hughes’ poems in his “I have a Dream” speech. Usually I do not enjoy reading poetry, but I actually found his poems to be both interesting and influential. 

In the poem “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?” Hughes addresses the issue of equality between white and black Americans. Despite the fact that both Black and White soldiers are fighting together, they are not considered equal off the battlefield. He emphasizes the fact that he is fighting for America like all the White soldiers, but will not receive the same treatment once they arrive home. It’s truly heartbreaking to see that the United States forced Black Americans to fight for the U.S in WWII, but would not consider fighting for their civil rights at home. 

In the poem “Theme For English B” Hughes highlights the fact that he is the only Black student in his class. Despite being Black, he enjoys the same things that the White students enjoy. I found the quote “As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me—although you’re older—and white—and somewhat more free.” to be interesting. The fact that he questions whether his professor can learn from him because he is not white is crazy. Race should have no impact on whether an individual can learn from one another.



Blog Post 10/26

For this blog post, we were assigned to read poems from Langston Hughes. I elected to read and talk about two of them specifically because those two clearly displayed moral and ethical lessons that are prominent and common that should be pointed out.

To begin, Night Funeral In Harlem depicts the story of a poor boy in Harlem, New York, that was killed and was too poor to have a funeral. The poor man had no money left to pay for funeral services so his friends contributed. The funeral was simple, but full of love and affection because people came together to provide a funeral for the beloved man who was unable to provide for himself. The poem’s primary theme illustrates the idea of humanity over material good, which is something that we as a world need to understand. Too often in today’s day and age people value material goods over love, compassion, kindness, and other human emotions that generate happiness in the world. If people cared less about materials and more about humanity, the world would be a happier and less greedy place.

The second poem I read was titled “I, Too”, and alluded to the ideas of breaking away from the oppression that Black Americans faced and continue to endure every day. This poem, while short and simple, conveyed an extremely powerful message that, “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table When company comes. Nobody’ll dare Say to me, Eat in the kitchen.” This line delineates that one day, Blacks and Whites will eat at the same table metaphorically, and be seen as equal humans. This poem was written over 100 years ago but continues to maintain relevance in today’s society, further emphasizing the problems with race in this world. This is yet another powerful example of literature that conveys a powerful social justice message that is as pressing today as it was in the early 1900’s.

Overall, these two poems by Langston Hughes illustrate important lessons of equality, love, compassion, and other traits that the world is lacking today. If people went back to the basics of humanity and acted with empathy and affection, the world would be a better place.


Blog post for 10/26

These poems by Langston emphasizes inequality in America during the Harlem Renaissance. These poems write stories of black men in American society and their struggles. The points of view in the poems help the reader understand the experiences of a black man to a deeper and more personal level. These poems made me feel overwhelmed with emotions and sadness to see that someone had to go through this. It is also shocking that some of the problems that are relevant throughout the poems are still prevalent in the world today.

In the poem “I, too,” Langston Hughes discusses the perspective of a black man in America fighting for equality. He uses the metaphor as a black man sitting at a separate dining table in a white household. Throughout the poem, he switches to the tone of a black man fighting for himself saying next time he is segregated he is going to stand up for himself and not let the white people in the house dictate where he sits. This poem is a metaphor for how black people are treated and how black contributes to American culture. 

In the poem “Theme for English B,” Langston Hughes writes about how he is is the only black person in his school class. This shows that the speaker is surrounded by people who have similar interests and intelligence. He discusses how even though he is black he still likes to do the same things that white people like to do. This emphasizes the idea that black and white people should be treated equally.


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. 


Julia Borger Blog Post 10/26

After reading this contingent of poems by Langston Hughes, I am struck by an overwhelming sense of emotion. Instead of feeling like I was reading a poem, it felt like he was telling me a story, his story- which is a goal all poets should have for their writing. I was astonished by the realness and deepness of the works, how he is not afraid to voice exactly how he is feeling as a black man during this time period in America, and gives an inside look into how the events were impacting him through metaphors, comparisons, rhymes, and other characters. The two poems that struck me most on an emotional level would have to be “Theme for English B” and “Let America Be America Again,” as both of these really portrayed how the narrator (Langston)  views himself as truly different compared to everyone else because of the color of his skin.

In “Theme for English B”, he emphasizes how he is the only colored student in his class, so writing a paper about what is true to him might not necessarily be true for everyone else. However these lines, “Well I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. I like to work, read, learn, and understand life” I found very relatable and things the majority of people like to do, showing how similar everyone really is on the inside.

In “Let America Be America Again” he highlights how he wishes America would go back to the place full of dreams and freedom, a beacon of hope for all. It is a surprisingly spirited poem in general, with many exclamation points that add to the enthusiasm for change. Although it does seem upbeat, he does take time to highlight who he is with many “I” statements, emphasizing struggles and adversity he has experienced as a black man who is not free.

After reading, I wonder how the rest of the world felt towards these poems both during this set time period and after. It is crazy to me that the same words can have such different meaning to people depending on its context and who is reading them. I imagine many had differing views on his works during the midst of the Harlem Renaissance compared to today, with the Black Lives Movement and many others based on confronting the racism in our country.



Zariah Post for 10/26

Langston Hughes was not only an important writer during the Harlem Renaissance, but his works are still very relevant now. One of the reasons we look at his works is because of the importance of a black perspective during this time period. Another reason we still look at his works is because of the strong similarities in his writings that can be related to even now. Most of his poems were inspired by life in Harlem, New York City, which was a mostly African American neighborhood. In them you see themes of race, injustice, equality, identity, America, and many other influencers of his work. His works have survived him because many of the things he talks about, have stayed relevant to us, and we can still relate to a lot of it.  

In a great deal of his works, race mattered. Out of the six poems we read for this week’s readings, five of them directly mentioned race. Even the sixth poem, “Dreams,” which doesn’t outwardly acknowledge race as a factor, in the context of the times it was written, race very much played a factor in the possible outcome of one’s dreams. Another important component of his writing is the way in which he approaches issues about America. Often when he mentions America, he recognizes it as an establishment that he is not a part of. In “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?,” he questions how much of a victory it will be because although it would be great for America, it won’t mean much for his progress as a black man. In the poem “I Too,” although he says “I, too, am America,” he does so trying to convince Americans that he does belong because they think otherwise. And then in his poem, “Let America Be America Again,” he explains how the greatness of America doesn’t apply to him and other marginalized people. These are just a few of the characteristics of his poems, but they are still applicable to us today. Although we have progressed since then, the social/political climate in the US has produced similar feelings, which is why I think we look back to his works and it still resonates.

The poem that stood out to me the most amongst these readings was “Themes for English B.” I think what stood out to me the most about this poem was the idea of truth being connected to race. Hughes gives the biography of a young black and describes what his truth is. It matters that he is black, from the North, and lives in Harlem. He has typical interests just like anyone else would. However, these identifiers are not at all the same for his teacher because he is white and his whiteness is his truth. Their truths come from being connected to one another but also being disconnected at the same time. He makes a point to add that this is American. Our history has forever intertwined the livelihood of blacks and whites but yet, there is still an obvious separation. In this poem, as well as many others, he is insinuating the idea of a white America and a black one, both with separate truths. These truths are the histories that came before them. There’s not one that’s right or wrong, but there are obvious differences that play a role in who they are, and how they understand each other.

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Episode 17

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 17: Prohibition and the Harlem Renaissance

Although we often think of the Civil Rights movement as primarily taking place post-World War II—and many of the major pieces of legislation, the March on Washington, and the activity surrounding the dismantling of Jim Crow, the Montgomery Bus Boycott…

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Download here for 10.30 class.

Download here for 12.00 class.

The following works were used in this podcast:

Blum, Deborah. The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. Reprint Edition. Penguin Books, 2011.

Foundation, Poetry. “An Introduction to the Harlem Renaissance.” Text/html. Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, October 15, 2020. Https://

———. “Langston Hughes.” Text/html. Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, October 15, 2020. Https://

“Langston Hughes Biography – Life, Children, Parents, Name, Story, History, School, Mother, Book, Information, Born, College.” Accessed October 16, 2020.

Lilleslåtten, Mari. “Everyone loving their jazz was not enough, the Harlem Renaissance wanted to change the perception of black people,” April 20, 2020.

Miller, Jason. “Langston Hughes’ Hidden Influence on MLK.” The Conversation, 2018.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Prohibition | Definition, History, Eighteenth Amendment, & Repeal.” Accessed October 16, 2020.


Blog Post 9 (20/10)

In “MLK: Charismatic Leadership in a Mass Struggle”, the idea of “King Myth” stands out. King’s role was underestimated however his power was exaggerated and overestimated and the civil rights did not solely depend on him, and without him, we would not have the civil rights movement. He is always seen as the idolized leader; a peaceful person leading a peaceful movement, however, fighting for racial justice is much more complex and controversial than that. Although his important role in the civil rights movement and work in ending the segregation of the people in the nation should not be denied, people should also look at his flaws as a person. Carson mentions that “because the myth emphasizes the individual at the expense of the black movement, it not only exaggerates King’s historical importance but also distorts his actual, considerable contribution to the movement” which I totally agree with. I think it was really interesting to see how this article explains how the more credit King is given, the less there is for the rebellion itself.

Zinn discusses the steps the government has taken during the civil rights movement in his chapter “Or does it explode?”. He explains how history has shifted in order to show how the United States government has played a great role in ending the struggle more than it actually did. He mentions that the federal government did not actually intervene to support the movement when the police and government involvement was mainly to stop the peaceful resistance. The government would only make small changes rather than fundamental ones to grab the attention and give people some sense of satisfaction with the actions they are taking. However, people were not satisfied and I feel that people are still experiencing nowadays a feeling that they are unprotected especially when it comes to issues of civil rights and the fight for equality.


Blog Post 10/21 (Maggie Otradovec)

Langston Hughes asked “what happens to a dream deferred?” In the 1950s and 1960s, America found out: it explodes. This dream refers to aspirations of Black Americans who are suffering oppression. The civil rights movement is this explosion, the fight for equality and freedom from this oppression. Zinn describes the many faces and leaders of this movement throughout history, from Langston Hughes and other poets/writers (such as Countee Cullen, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Richard Wright) to Rosa Parks and Malcom X. Zinn also discusses Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most prolific leaders of the civil rights movement. 

Martin Luther King Jr. is inarguably one of the most influential people in American history. His actions led to great advancements in social justice for Black Americans, and his legacy lives on today as a sense of hope, more than just the national holiday or the monuments. Despite this, King was still just a man. He had faults, and he was a rather controversial leader, as described in Carson’s article, and the myths around him distort the real history.

Martin Luther King Jr. was not a “simplistic image designed to offend no one – a black counterpart to the static, heroic myths that have embalmed George Washington as the Father of His Country and Abraham Lincoln as the Great Emancipator,” (28). King did not single handedly lead the civil rights movement. Yes, he was wildly charismatic as a leader, but he was not the only one, and he wasn’t universally supported. Carson argues that King should be recognized “as a major example of the local black leadership that emerged as black communities mobilized for sustained struggles,” (31). He was a major player in the civil rights movement, but he was also just a man that was part of something greater than himself.


Isa Keetley Blog Post for 10/21

I found MLK: Charismatic Leadership in a Mass Struggle to be very interesting, specifically the idea of a “King myth”. Earlier on in class we discussed and debunked certain myths pertaining to the origins of the US, however I never thought we would be discussing the myth of a man like MLK Jr. However, while reading, I found myself agreeing with what the author was saying. It’s very important to emphasize that the black rights and civil rights movements would have happened without MLK. I think that in schools particularly, MLK is depicted as this fearless man who without him we wouldn’t have achieved freedom and ended segregation in our nation. He was a great man but he should not be idolized, the author writes, “Idolizing King lessens one’s ability to exhibit some of his best attributes or, worse, encourages one to become a debunker, emphasizing King’s flaws in order to lessen the inclination to exhibit his virtues,” which I believe is key to discussing King.

In Zinn’s “Or Does it Explode?” he discusses the government during these times and the steps they took to “help” the civil  rights movement. Zinn argues that the only goal of the government passing civil rights legislation wSa to “control an explosive situation” without making any real “fundamental changes” to society at large. This made me wonder what other sort of legislation has been passed to appease the people rather than to actually reform society. Obviously now, the Voting Rights Act and the rule that segregation was unconstitutional are completely upheld in our legal system and generally supported in society, but at the time of implementation they were not. Have we seen this sort of pattern in other points in history?