By Rev. Christian Schmidt
I’ve been thinking often of the work of the poet Langston Hughes. As February and Black History Month approaches, as we recently inaugurated a new president and new Congress. There’s a sense of hope and possibility that I didn’t feel a year ago, and at the same time, I know we have a lot of work to do. To that affect, I wanted to share this Hughes’ poem, among his best known: 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.")
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!
May all of us be a part of making America what we hope and know it can be.