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winter 2013-14 075

Langston Hughes touches all of us because in his poems and other works he left us so much of his heart and courage.

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 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 its 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

http://www.poemhunter.com/...

Poet: Langston Hughes - All poems of Langston Hughes

http://www.poemhunter.com/...

I don't analyze his poems, I celebrate them.  They speak by themselves and his mind reaches out and touches mine.  He opens a door for me to see and hear.  His words sink into me.  I become deeper than I was before because he opened his heart and mind.  I grow in spirit.  I become larger and understand more.  He is a teacher and I recognize beauty.  The beauty stays with me for fifty years.  

His life is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/...

wiki says:

James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance…

Hughes identified as unashamedly black at a time when blackness was démodé. He stressed the theme of "black is beautiful" as he explored the black human condition in a variety of depths.  His main concern was the uplift of his people, whose strengths, resiliency, courage, and humor he wanted to record as part of the general American experience.

His poetry and fiction portrayed the lives of the working-class blacks in America, lives he portrayed as full of struggle, joy, laughter, and music. Permeating his work is pride in the African-American identity and its diverse culture. "My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America and obliquely that of all human kind," Hughes is quoted as saying. He confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and expanded African America’s image of itself; a “people’s poet” who sought to reeducate both audience and artist by lifting the theory of the black aesthetic into reality.

A favorite example: (Page 220 in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes)
Daybreak in Alabama

When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama.

Langston Hughes

More joy:

Pages 203, 204

In Time Of Silver Rain

In time of silver rain
The earth puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads

Of Life,
Of Life,
Of life!

In time of silver rain
The butterflies lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth new leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,

In time of silver rain When spring
And life
Are new.

Langston Hughes

Other diaries about Hughes:

Langston Hughes nailed it
by Old Redneck
http://www.dailykos.com/...

The diary has his poem:
Let America Be America Again

Pages 89-91 in The Collected Poems.  

The Daily Kos tag brings 63 diaries up:

http://www.arcxix.dailykos.com/...

And yet, upon purchasing his book of Collected Poems, I felt the need to speak of him again.

This site has Hughes reading some of his poems and others reading some:

http://jonathanturley.org/...

The first poem I read by him was this one fifty years ago:  

Pg. 240

Merry-Go-Round

Where is the Jim Crow section
On this merry-go-round,
Mister, cause I want to ride?
Down South where I come from
White and colored
Can't sit side by side.
Down South on the train
There's a Jim Crow car.
On the bus we're put in the back—
But there ain't no back
To a merry-go-round!
Where's the horse
For a kid that's black?

Langston Hughes

He taught us to hear and see the truth and he spoke out about injustice.

Pg. 204  (part of the poem)

August 19th

A Poem for Clarence Norris

What flag will fly for me
When I die?
What flag of red and white and blue,
Half-mast, against the sky
I’m not the President,
Not the Honorable So-and S0.
But only one of the
Scottsboro Boys
Doomed “by law” to go…

For if you let the “law” kill me,
Are you free?
August 19th is the date.
Clarence Norris is my name.
The sentence, against me,
Against you, the same.
August 19th is the date.
Thunder in the sky.
In Alabama
A young boy will die….

Wiki says:

http://en.wikipedia.org/...

The Scottsboro Boys were nine black teenagers accused of rape in Alabama in 1931. The landmark set of legal cases from this incident dealt with racism and the right to a fair trial. The case included a frameup, an all-white jury, rushed trials, an attempted lynching, an angry mob, and is an example of an overall miscarriage of justice.

On March 25, 1931, several people were hoboing on a freight train traveling between Chattanooga and Memphis, Tennessee. Several white teenagers jumped off the train and reported to the sheriff that they had been attacked by a group of black teenagers. The sheriff deputized a posse, stopped and searched the train at Paint Rock, Alabama, arrested the black teenagers, and found two young white women who accused the teenagers of rape. The case was first heard in Scottsboro, Alabama in three rushed trials, where the defendants received poor legal representation.

All but thirteen-year-old Roy Wright were convicted of rape and sentenced to death, the common sentence in Alabama at the time for black men convicted of raping white women. But with help from the American Communist Party, the case was appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed seven of the eight convictions, and granted thirteen-year-old Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile. Chief Justice John C. Anderson dissented, however, ruling that the defendants had been denied an impartial jury, fair trial, fair sentencing, and effective counsel. While waiting for their trials, eight of the nine defendants stayed in Kilby Prison.

The case was returned to the lower court and the judge allowed a change of venue, moving the retrials to Decatur, Alabama. Judge Horton was appointed. During the retrials, one of the alleged victims admitted fabricating the rape story and asserted that none of the Scottsboro Boys touched either of the white women. The jury found the defendants guilty, but the judge set aside the verdict and granted a new trial. After a new series of trials, the verdict was the same: guilty. The cases were ultimately tried three times. For the third time a jury—now with one black member—returned a third guilty verdict.

Charges were finally dropped for four of the nine defendants. Sentences for the rest ranged from 75 years to death. All but two served prison sentences. One was shot in prison by a guard. Two escaped, were charged with crimes, and were sent back to prison. Clarence Norris, the oldest defendant and the only one sentenced to death, escaped parole and went into hiding in 1946. He was pardoned by George Wallace in 1976 after he was found, and wrote a book about his experiences. Norris, the last surviving defendant, died in 1989.

On November 21, 2013, Alabama's parole board voted to grant posthumous pardons to the Scottsboro Boys.

"The Scottsboro Boys", as they soon became known, were defended by many in the North and attacked by many in the South. The case is now widely considered a miscarriage of justice that eventually produced the end of all-white juries in the South.


I leave you with another favorite:

(Thinking of my two adopted grandbabies) (Picture from when they were two and six…they are now six and ten)

IMG_0709

Pg. 40

Dream Variations

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me-
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening...
A tall, slim tree...
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

Langston Hughes

Which poem of his is your favorite?  

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! Does it gotta be perfect?
by SensibleShoes
http://www.dailykos.com/...

Other Mind Touching Mind Bookflurries diaries:

Hafiz, Rilke, and Rumi

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Loren Eiseley

http://www.dailykos.com/...

Thomas Merton

http://www.dailykos.com/...

Sojourner Truth (my own pictures in this diary no longer come through)

http://www.dailykos.com/...

A very important diary!!

Dignity in the Workplace (Part 1)
by Robert Fuller
http://www.dailykos.com/...

Robert Fuller says:

Another chapter of The Rowan Tree is up:

http://www.rowantreenovel.com/...

Kindle version of The Rowan Tree still free on Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/...

My memoir Belonging still free via Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/...

................

NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

Poll

Which person of the Harlem Renaissance is your favorite?

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