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.