“Reading Langston Hughes for a New America, and National Peace and Unity”
In my Literature course, we’re currently studying the (selected poems) poetry of Langston Hughes, who is rightly called “The Poet of the (American) People,” within the historical trajectories of the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Jim Crow racial segregation.
We already read “Let America Be America Again,” “Our Land,” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” The message of the poem below is one of the reasons Langston Hughes is my favorite American poet:
“Our Land” by Langston Hughes
We should have a land of sun,
Of gorgeous sun,
And a land of fragrant water
Where the twilight
Is a soft bandanna handkerchief
Of rose and gold,
And not this land where life is cold.
We should have a land of trees,
Of tall thick trees
Bowed down with chattering parrots
Brilliant as the day,
And not this land where birds are grey.
Ah, we should have a land of joy,
Of love and joy and wine and song,
And not this land where joy is wrong.
Oh, sweet away!
Ah, my beloved one, away!
***I always tell my Lit. students that Langston Hughes is the greatest Black poet America has produced in the history of American letters. Folks, it is not Paul Lawrence Dunbar. It is Hughes, was always Hughes, has always been Hughes, and will always be Langston Hughes.
In his poetic corpus and social essays, Langston Hughes has always called America to holistic change and national lament, and summoned the American people to embody and actualize the American ideals embedded in Spirit of the country’s Constitution.
Hughes believed on the transformative power of generous and imclusive democracy for all people and particularly the future emancipative possibilities it bears for the commom people in America. Hughes reminds us that the American people talk about democracy and even enjoy the practice of democracy in the American experience, but a large segment of the American population don’t believe every American citizen should have democratic rights.
Generous democracy does not abandon justice, equity, fairness, and civil rights in the caravan; rather, it promotes these ideals and sustains national unity and progress.
Inclusive Democracy for all is never a threat to human flourishing and the common good in society; rather, it strengthens human virtues and (interpersonal) relations. Democracy is a mighty fortress for the poor and the disfranchised population in our society. These individuals understand the value of democracy when they taste it and will not let anyone or force take it away from them.
Have a great Thursday, friends!