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Transcript of Langston Hughes
“The first two or three days, on the way home from school, little white kids, kids my age, 6 and 7 years old, who would throw stones at me. There were other little white kids, 6 and 7 years old, who picked up stones and threw them back at their fellow classmates, and defend me, and saw that I got home safely. So, I learned very early in life that our race problem is not really of black against white, and white against black. It's a problem of people who are not very knowledgeable, or have small minds, or small spirits.”
His dad was black and white
His mom black, white, Native American
Raised by grandmother in the South in poverty
When he was 13 he began to write; class poet
In 1922, he dropped out of Columbia University and worked on a fleet of ships. He traveled to Europe, Africa, and Asia.
By Maja, Taylor, Sarah, Zoe, and Riley
Style and Technique
Harlem Renaissance was a literary, artistic, and intellectual movement that kindled a new black cultural identity
Works focused on a realistic portrayal of black life
Incorporated blues and jazz along with spirituals
One of the founders of Renaissance
Where have black Americans been and where are they going? Themes of migration, slavery, and the American dream
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
The Weary Blues
Montage of a Dream Deferred
Not Without Laughter
The Ways of White Folks
Mimics Jazz/Blues style music
Criticized by many black intellectuals for portraying what they thought to be an unattractive view of black life.
The struggles blacks faced in a racist America
“Expression of our individual dark-skinned selves.” -Langston Hughes
"They'll see how beautiful I am
and be ashamed--
I, too, am America."
~I, Too, Sing America
Being of different races and classes
Black is beautiful
"O, let America be America again
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free"
~Let America be America Again
People felt that Hughes was sending a poor message to the white community thereby generating more racial tension.
Serious white critics ignored him saying that his work didn't effect them.
"We Negro Writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives. Censorship for us begins at the color line. "
- Langston Hughes
Analysis of I, Too, Sing America
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.
I Dream A World
By Langston Hughes
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!
"I" is a metonymy that represents African Americans as a whole
"Brother" shows that all races are part of the same family, the family being America
"Kitchen" is a metaphor for segregation
The alliteration "company comes" is used for emphasis
Theme: The injustice of racism in America
Title: The title
I, Too, Sing America
alludes to Walt Whitman's poem,
I Hear America Singing
He'll decide his fate, not society
Metaphor of African American's seen as weak, but in the future they will be able to do as they wish without fear
The alliteration "company comes" is used again for emphasis. It represents a time of change.
White people will recognize that race doesn't matter and realize how poorly they treated blacks
Irregular structure= creates the effect of inequality, symbolizing the discrimination he is receiving
African Americans are treated like second-class citizens
Instead of feeling discouraged, he grows stronger as a person
He dreams a world where all men get along
Addresses the issue that some blacks were oblivious to how unfair they where treated
Use of the word sap is ironic: sap carries a negative connotation in the verb form but a positive one in the noun form
"Nor avarice blights our day" = greed won't get in the way of living in harmony
"I dream a world" is reordered to "A world I dream"
New ideas can be interchanged without disrupting balance
Racism is a worldwide issue
"Wretchedness" is personified as "hanging its head" in shame like others will do when they're ashamed at how they've acted
Simile is used comparing joy to a pearl
Many migrated to seek prosperity and opportunity in the North, specifically Harlem, New York
Hughes and the Civil Rights Movement
Hughes tried to depict the "low-life" in his art, that is, the real lives of blacks in the lower social-economic strata.
Analysis of I Dream a World
He understood the main points of the Black Power movement of the 1960's, but believed that some of the younger black writers who supported it were too angry in their work
Theme: No racial boundaries exist and everyone lives in freedom and harmony
Title: The name
I Dream a World
sounds similar to Martin Luther King Jr's speech
I Have a Dream;
may have influenced MLK Jr.
Tone: He is optimistic of his dream and believes that one day it will come true
Tone: Hopeful that America will change
He criticized the divisions and prejudices based on skin color within the black community.
"Well, when Christ comes back this time, I hope He comes back mad His own self. I hope He drives the Jim Crowers out of their high places, every living last one of them from Washington to Texas." ~Langston Hughes
"I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers."