Let America Be America Again
“The day America experiences true freedom through equality and love of one another. Is the day I’ll be a happy man, knowing I've done what this country needs.” Interviewed in 1935, social activist and an African American poet Langston Hughes rallied his people with these words of optimism to unite and strive for opportunity, freedom and equality. It was a brave call because it contested the dominant attitude, values and beliefs to colour and class during in an era of strict racial segregation and severe economic depression. Whilst Hughes’ voice represented hope and leadership, it also critically highlighted whether the American dream was something all could obtain. In this seminar presentation, Langston Hughes’ poem, “Let America Be America Again” is deconstructed to explore those marginalised in American society. He positions the reader to question the Negro human condition and their struggle for triumph. In addition to the ideological analysis of the text, an aesthetic interpretation of the language is also presented.
Hughes was convinced that being “black” was something beautiful. Yet he was born during a time when the discriminatory Jim Crow Laws were enforced. These laws created a division between the whites and the blacks in their day-to-day lives. As a result of this Hughes father abandoned his family to escape this racial prejudice that stopped him from practicing law. For Langston Hughes the impact of this was significant on his early attitudes and beliefs about fairness and equality. It was also the underpinning theme of his poetry.
Raised in the southern states of America, it was a lonely childhood living with his stern but proud, black grandmother who taught him to stand up for the underdog and not to let racial segregation control his life. As a consequence of this, Hughes’ poems position the reader to value and support all Americans no matter what colour their skin. This concept is foregrounded in...
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