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Got a good reason For taking the easy way out

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
2:11 A.M.

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Heads or Tails prompt this week, Barb has the category of "Legend".

Well, I'm certainly not a legend in my own time. But that is the first thing I thought of when reading the subject at hand. Hmmmmmm, who could be considered a legend. Will Smith? Wasn't he IN the movie I am Legend this past year? I never saw it tho, and he isn't the one I'm blogging today either. Let me think....

When Michelle Obama stated in February of 2008 "I'm PROUD OF AMERICA FOR THE FIRST TIME", I immediately remembered this piece of work, and understood what she meant by her words. She wasn't NOT proud of the country, she was proud to be black and living here, finally, in all her years of life and how America treat blacks, even in today's times, she could stand up to speak and feel more 'equal' to all those who surrounded her. So, such a work that is aforementioned, is the legend I choose this week. The legend of a great poem; the poet who was a more: 'contemporary' legend....
Since February is Black History month, [it's not all slavery, abolition and underground] - I remember having to read and critique this poem in class way back in Junior High School when we were studying the different cultures of our land in Social Studies. It was poignant back then for me as a teenager, it still holds a lot of sympathies for me and the black race in our tainted history, AND 'our' prejudices [be they black, white 'trash', red or yellow - disfigured, crippled, slanted eyes, or what have you] seen world-wide:
    Let America Be America Again

    By Langston Hughes

    Let America be America again.
    Let it be the dream it used to be.
    Let it be the pioneer on the plain
    Seeking a home where he himself is free.

    (America never was America to me.)

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
    Let it be that great strong land of love
    Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
    That any man be crushed by one above.

    (It never was America to me.)

    O, let my land be a land where Liberty
    Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
    But opportunity is real, and life is free,
    Equality is in the air we breathe.

    (There's never been equality for me,
    Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

    Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
    And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

    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.

    I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
    Tangled in that ancient endless chain
    Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
    Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
    Of work the men! Of take the pay!
    Of owning everything for one's own greed!

    I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
    I am the worker sold to the machine.
    I am the Negro, servant to you all.
    I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
    Hungry yet today despite the dream.
    Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
    I am the man who never got ahead,
    The poorest worker bartered through the years.

    Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
    In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
    Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
    That even yet its mighty daring sings
    In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
    That's made America the land it has become.
    O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
    In search of what I meant to be my home--
    For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
    And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
    And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
    To build a "homeland of the free."

    The free?

    Who said the free? Not me?
    Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
    The millions shot down when we strike?
    The millions who have nothing for our pay?
    For all the dreams we've dreamed
    And all the songs we've sung
    And all the hopes we've held
    And all the flags we've hung,
    The millions who have nothing for our pay--
    Except the dream that's almost dead today.

    O, let America be America again--
    The land that never has been yet--
    And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
    The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
    Who made America,
    Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
    Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
    Must bring back our mighty dream again.

    Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
    The steel of freedom does not stain.
    From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
    We must take back our land again,

    O, yes,
    I say it plain,
    America never was America to me,
    And yet I swear this oath--
    America will be!

    Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
    The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
    We, the people, must redeem
    The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
    The mountains and the endless plain--
    All, all the stretch of these great green states--
    And make America again!

- - -

Langston Hughes was, in his later years, was deemed the "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race." I personally must say that the man WAS a legend in his own time!! When Langston Hughes's grandmother died, his mother summoned him to her home in Lincoln, Illinois. Here, according to Hughes, he wrote his first verse and was named class poet of his eighth grade class. During his senior year of high school, Langston Hughes began writing poetry of distinction. Hughes entered Columbia University in the fall of 1921, a little more than a year after he had graduated from Central High School. Langston stayed in school there for only a year; meanwhile, he found Harlem. Hughes quickly became an integral part of the arts scene in Harlem, so much so that in many ways he defined the spirit of the age, from a literary point of view. The Big Sea, the first volume of his autobiography, provides such a crucial first-person account of the era and its key players that much of what we know about the Harlem Renaissance we know from Langston Hughes's point of view. Hughes began regularly publishing his work in the Crisis and Opportunity magazines. He got to know other writers of the time such as Countee Cullen, Claude McCay, W.E.B. DuBois, and James Weldon Johnson. When his poem "The Weary Blues" won first prize in the poetry section of the 1925 Opportunity magazine literary contest, Hughes's literary career was launched. His first volume of poetry, also titled The Weary Blues, appeared in 1926.

February 1, 1902 - May 22, 1967
"Let America Be America Again," published in Esquire and in the International Worker Order pamphlet A New Song (1938)


  1. inspirationally you are today!

  2. What a poem! It's so powerful and moving!!!

    We can hope Obama will right some of these wrongs. Some are maybe irreparable?

    But Anni, Anni! You ARE a legend. Just wanted to point hat out. :)

  3. I'm hosting Fun Monday on 2/23

  4. Anni,

    This is an awesome post. I had never read that poem before and I'm glad that you brought it and Langston Hughes to my attention. What an inspiration!

    Thanks for taking part in my Black History quiz and as you say, Black History is about more than slavery and the Underground Railroad.

    I enjoyed my visit immensley and learned something this morning.

    Have a great week, my friend.

  5. That poem is a classic. Great response to the prompt!

  6. That poem is a classic. Great response to the prompt!

  7. I loved the poeam...Great post and very interesting.

  8. That was a brilliant post. Very well done, on this.

  9. Good morning dear Anni:-)

    I'm finally back in the land of blogging after having had Steve here for a few days! I've so missed everyone and now will spend the day catching up. First of all, I just love your new look, just gorgeous.

    That poem that Langston Hughes wrote is certainly very powerful and now all those years later, how proud he would be to see America finally being FREE to EVERYONE!!! xoxo

  10. I don't know him but what he says is indeed very true !

  11. Very thought provoking post. Well said.

  12. Anni, your HoT today is amazing and inspirational. And your new blog layout is stunning.

  13. Anonymous2/17/2009

    Wow. Thank you so much for sharing. That was astounding.

  14. its so nice that america have something to be proud of. we cud do with someone like obama over here ;)

  15. Anonymous2/17/2009

    Interesting. And wow what a great background.

  16. He is a legend indeed.
    It is good to be reminded of his contribution to American literature. The poem is moving and touches the American dream as it needs to be touched.

  17. Awesome! ♥ Hugs :)

  18. Good post and an informative one, Anni. I, too, understood what Michelle Obama meant by her words, but the media sure twisted them, didn't they?

  19. Anni dear
    What a wonderful poem of Hughes, I have never seen that before, thank you for sharing.
    You have always such interesting things to tell.
    I have, though, read a book of Hughes way back in 1950-something called
    I remember it because a lady on the same clinic, and time, I gave birth to John, read it, and said it was so good, and it is!!
    Have you read that one?
    Have a nice day- "Du er den bedste"

  20. nice post.

    thanks for stopping by my hot!

  21. Anni,

    If you get time, stop over to Michelle's blog. She has photos of the rings posted that she got for her birthday and below that, a post about Brandon's trip.

  22. Thanks for some Langston Hughes ... I've read his stuff before (this poem included)... always nice to see and read again. Great HOT.