You and your whole race.

By Langston Hughes 1902–1967 Langston Hughes
You and your whole race.
Look down upon the town in which you live
And be ashamed.
Look down upon white folks   
And upon yourselves   
And be ashamed
That such supine poverty exists there,
That such stupid ignorance breeds children there
Behind such humble shelters of despair—
That you yourselves have not the sense to care
Nor the manhood to stand up and say
I dare you to come one step nearer, evil world,
With your hands of greed seeking to touch my throat, I dare you to come one step nearer me:
                        When you can say that
                        you will be free!

Source: Poetry (January 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2009
 Langston  Hughes

Biography

Langston Hughes was first recognized as an important literary figure during the 1920s, a period known as the "Harlem Renaissance" because of the number of emerging black writers. Du Bose Heyward wrote in the New York Herald Tribune in 1926: "Langston Hughes, although only twenty-four years old, is already conspicuous in the group of Negro intellectuals who are dignifying Harlem with a genuine art life. . . . It is, however, as . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Race & Ethnicity

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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