GWENDOLYN BROOKS &
Both poets had an influential impact on me in college & their work inspired me
become a poet, teacher and writer.
It was literary
author Jonathan Kozol
who introduced me to the work of both these writers.
In 1967, Jonathan
Kozol, a young white teacher in the poor, black section of Boston
was fired for
reading a Langston Hughes poem to his fourth grade students.
understands the inner city lives of black children, the poor,
the oppressed and disadvantanged, and works with them in the
His writing has
been most influential in knowing real black lives,
their education, development
and root problems.
He is author of
the National Book Award Death At An Early Age,
and many other
books worth reading
An End to Inequality:
Breaking Down the Walls of Apartheid Education in America
by Jonathan Kozol - To be published March 12, 2024
First African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize (for
corresponded with Gwendolyn Brooks when I was an undergraduate student
Bensalem College, Fordham University,
and while in a Master's program at Goddard
poet laureate of Illinois.
Novels, Stories, Plays,
Autobiographies, Poems, Songs, Blues, Pageant, Articles, Speeches by
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.
Langston Hughes, "I, Too" from The
Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Copyright © 2002 by Langston
Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates, Inc.
Langston Hughes is the poet laureate of African-American
experience — a popular writer of the Harlem Renaissance who gave hopeful
expression to the aspirations of the oppressed, even as he decried racism and
injustice. In addition to poetry, he published fiction, drama, autobiography,
and translations. His work continues to serve as a model of wide empathy and
More By This Poet
The Blues and Jazz Poetry of Langston Hughes
A Personal Appreciation By Ray Smith
Hughes’s first published poem, ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’, was in a 1921 issue
of The Crisis magazine. This was to become one of his most famous poems, later
appearing in Brownie’s Book and he included it in his first book of poetry, The
Weary Blues in 1926.
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
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.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I danced in the Nile when I was old.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen it’s muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
Langston Hughes in 1923
Langston Hughes' poem
"I Dream A World"
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!
Born January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia,
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
is known as one of the most important figures of movements that centered the
rights of Black folks in America. A lesser known fact about Dr. King is that
he was friends with and deeply influenced by the poetry of
Similarly, Hughes wrote poetry about King’s work. Hughes’s influence on King
was so profound that traces of his poetry have been identified in some of
Dr. King’s most important speeches. Some poignant examples are King
referring to himself as the "victim of deferred dreams" in "A
Christmas Sermon for Peace,"
and affirming "Life for none of us has been a crystal stair" at Montgomery,
Street Baptist Church in
November 1956. Both derive from Hughes's poems, "Harlem"
is a news media platform that gives a fresh and meaningful perspective on the
Black news, culture, and art that matters to the African diaspora.
"A life is not important,
except in the impact it has on other lives."
SUMMER OF SOUL
Director Questlove presents a powerful documentary
part music film, part historical record
created around an epic event that celebrated Black history,
and fashion, around six weeks in the summer of 1969.
2022 Oscar Award Winner Best Documentary
Music to satisfy the soul!
Click for VIDEO
YOUTH POET LAUREATE
reads a poem
"The Hill We Climb"
at Joe Biden's Presidential inauguration.
HILL WE CLIMB
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.")
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,
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!
You may write me down in
With your bitter,
You may trod me in the
still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with
’Cause I walk like
I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living
Just like moons and
With the certainty of
Just like hopes
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered
Shoulders falling down
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it
’Cause I laugh like
I’ve got gold mines
in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with
You may kill me with
still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a
That I dance like I’ve
meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s
rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean,
leaping and wide,
and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s
Bringing the gifts
that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the
hope of the slave.
From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.
Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.
by Alwaz Carey
Hip Hop & Rap
Lift Every Voice: A conversation with Bay Area Black leaders
Every Voice, a project connecting young Black journalists with Black Americans
75 and older to celebrate and learn from their life experiences — deepening
connections with the past to position us all for a better future.