Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes


Today would have been the 110th birthday of James Mercer Langston Hughes, “an American poet, novelist, playwright, and columnist.” When he died on May 22, 1967, I wasn’t that familiar with his work, but I knew that someone important had passed. He was born into abolitionist stock, had both black and white critics, but eventually became a leading light of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.

Here’s the text of Let America Be America Again, which starts:
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.

Here’s a reading of the poem.
***
From Bizarro Books the GOP Reads (that’s print title Newsweek used), Paul Begala wrote: “Poor Rick Santorum has struggled with literature as well, taking his initial campaign slogan, “Let America Be America Again,” from Langston Hughes. But he later disavowed it after learning that the African-American poet was pro-union and reportedly gay. Should have Googled it, Rick.”

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3 thoughts on “Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

  1. Langston Hughes has long been one of my favourite poets, ever since we read him in one of my high school classes (this, in a nearly all-white, middle class high school, no less). So, for that and many other reasons, it’s not surprising that “Let America Be America Again” is one of my favourite poems. Actually, I once seriously thought about recording myself reading it, sort of like an audiobook. Then, I came to my senses.

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