English Comp. 11
26 October 2012
Langston Hughes: Spokesman for Civil Rights
The purpose of this essay is to examine the theme of three Langston Hughes poems; “I. Too,” “Mother to Son,” and “Theme for English B.” The theme of these three essays is civil rights. Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902. His parents separated early in his life, he lived with his mother in Kansas City. Langston Hughes attended High School where as a senior he wrote, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Langston became a Merchant Seaman in 1923 and visited Ports of West Africa. He lived for a time in Paris, Genoa, and Rome but returned to the United States after some time. In 1903 He became involved in radical politics, but after WW11 he shifted to mainstream progressive politics. Langston became a spokesman for the Civil Rights movement; He died in Harlem in 1967.
In all three of these poems Langston Hughes used the word “I” but they were all used describing different people. In “I, Too,” Langston writes, “I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother” (976), He is referring to all “dark” people not just himself, he’s talking to the people in America, white and black. In “Mother to Son,” Hughes writes, “Well, son, I’ll tell you” (975), Hughes is clearly writing this poem from the position of a Mother talking to her Son. And in “Theme for English B,” As Langston Hughes writes, “I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem” (980) he is writing as if it is him, he is writing about.
All of these poems have one theme in common and that is the treatment of the “Colored” (980) in the early 1900’s. In “Theme for English B,” we see a young college student that is asked to write a page for his English class, he makes a point to say that this was the third college he attended, also that he lives in Harlem. The college student states he likes the same things “Folks of other races do”(980), but doesn’t really know if the teacher will look at his paper...