Classic Langston Hughes


In the 2nd grade, I told my class I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. My teacher made me memorize this poem. I didn’t understand it but I was told I “had to know it” if I wanted to be in the arts.  So I never forgot.

With time, I was told being a black woman in the arts meant I had to be better at quoting Shakespeare, knowing Frost, knowing Poe, understanding Greek theatre, and audition for all the classic plays in American literature that I could. Even though none of the characters described my features or spoke like me or ate the food that I ate or told my story.

Maybe when I stood in front of the class and said I wanted to be an actress my teacher knew… she just knew she’d better make me memorize this Langston Hughes poem and tell me sternly, “don’t forget this.” And I never forgot.

And through my (mis)education and living life in the arts, my dream indeed was deferred. But I remembered this poem, and fully understand it now.

8 thoughts on “Classic Langston Hughes”

  1. Powerful poem, thank you for sharing it…When I was in second grade I said I wanted to be on television when I grew up and the teacher mocked me and the class laughed at me…never realized how that one incident silenced my voice for so long…it is still in recovery…ready to break free…wonder what I will say when it burst forth…explodes…television holds no attraction now but my voice longs to sing, paint, dance, soar….

    1. Wow… Well, it’s time to put that voice to a mic! I’m sorry that happened to you but it’s great you recognize where/why you stopped. I’m going to be checking on you and your art 🙂

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