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(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

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Let America be America Again

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.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

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,
America!

O, yes,
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!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003


Read poems about / on: america, dream, today, dog, freedom, rape, africa, people, greed, hope, home, dark, faith, strength, power, work, rain, red, green, pain

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Comments about this poem (Cultural Exchange by Langston Hughes )

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  • Deborah Houseright (9/21/2013 6:37:00 PM)

    The words to this poem were written long ago. But it touches my heart because it could be said that it was written about the times of today.

    15 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Thomas Altfather Good (7/15/2013 9:28:00 AM)

    This poem, which always moved me, remains as poignant, powerful, and urgent as ever - with the George Zimmerman verdict being the latest example of why.

  • Alvin Willis (5/26/2013 7:50:00 AM)

    This poem represents hope despite the barriers it sees.

  • Godfrey Morris (8/14/2012 9:35:00 AM)

    A very powerful write.

  • Stan D (1/4/2012 7:59:00 AM)

    As a young Black 14yr old youth living in Harlem, I had the Honor and Pleasure of meeting Mr. Hughes. My Harlem, My Harlem!

    Stan D

  • Rensi Pipalia (12/31/2011 1:20:00 AM)

    nice one! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  • Stan Faryna (10/4/2011 7:15:00 AM)

    Imagine with me for a moment. Imagine President Obama reading Langston Hughes' Let American be America Again at the next State of the Union Address.

    Now that would be something.

    Recently on my blog: The Final Speech of the Great Dictator by Sir Charles Chaplin http: //wp.me/pbg0R-qG

  • Saadat Tahir (6/30/2010 2:40:00 PM)

    superb strong heart felt stuff, , , , at the loss of innocenswe and virginity of a system...

    wish GW bush and his ilk wd read and heed...

    cheers

  • Kwesi Atta Sakyi (5/26/2009 11:00:00 AM)

    Lagston Hughes says it all without a megaphone and without frills. What frankness, zeal, candour and deep feeling for the suffering folks whose dreams, hopes, vision and aspirations lay shattered, stolen and destroyed by a few greedy lot! This powerful message rings ever true today than the time it was written! Was he a seer or prophet? Magnificent stuff! Kwesi Atta Sakyi

  • Tynice Owens (8/30/2008 5:47:00 PM)

    I find his words to still be in the struggles of today. Let America be America Again, ...yes, that is what we all long and strive for every day. These words speak to me in a perfect time, place and year. These words cry out for hope, for a better tomorrow, for an America to be what it once was, is, and still can be. The same as way Obama sees it, it's the same way Langston wrote it.

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