"I swear to the Lord, I still can't see, why democracy means, everybody but me."

These were spoken words of desperation from Langston Hughes.

Today I will discuss how Langston Hughes represents the recurring theme of injustice of the African-Americans through his racial protest in the poems; I Too, Sing America, Democracy and A New Song. Hughes represents the theme of injustice by utilising emotive writing, expression of tone and making references to the Harlem Renaissance.

Langston Hughes reveals the injustice past of the African-Americans and calls for unity amongst society by reflecting on the Harlem Renaissance in the poem, A New Song. The Harlem Renaissance was a significant influence in Hughes writing. This era was the first time ever that African-Americans were encouraged to celebrate their heritage. Langston Hughes explains that the African-American society is ready to take action from the first line of the poem, “I speak in the name of the black millions / Awakening to action” (1). A New Song was written as a free verse and Hughes constructs this poem chronically in regards to the history of African-Americans. Hughes positions the readers to feel the injustice of slavery when he African Americans were sold as commodities and mistreated when he explains in lines 7 to 9, “Bitter was the day, when I bowed my back beneath the slaver’s whip” (7-9). However Hughes commits the period to history by stating, “That day is past” (10). Throughout the poem Hughes recalls many “bitter” and discriminative events of the African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance relating to “thieves, exploiters, killers” (29). However, Hughes declares that “no longer shall you [they] say, with arrogant eyes and scornful lips: You are my servant, Black man- I, the free!’ (29-34). These lines were important in positioning the reader to feel anger towards the Western society due to the prejudice actions towards the black society and again, this proves the segregation of the white society to the African-Americans. However, Hughes then emphasises the line “that day is past” (35). The repetition of the line “bitter was the day” and “the day is past” is very important in letting readers feel emotions of sorrow and sympathy towards the African-Americans, yet “sweet” and hopeful for their future (43). Towards the end of the poem, Langston Hughes states in line 50, “The black and white world shall be one!” By this line, the reader understood that even though ‘his’ people have endured the isolation of the White society, Hughes still believes that everyone will soon be treated equally in this “worker’s world” (53).

Join now!

Hughes positions the readers to feel the emotions of guilt and sympathy by applying his personal narration in I, Too, Sing America. Langston Hughes uses the emotions of guilt to allow the readers to recognise the inequality of the African-Americans. In this poem, Hughes presents a situation of a “darker brother” where “they send me [him] to eat in the kitchen when company comes (2). This situation represents the fact that segregation of African-American happens on every level – either minor or very major. The reader felt sympathetic for the, “darker brother” who was isolated and his presence was an embarrassment ...

This is a preview of the whole essay