This Black History Month I am devoting the entire month to the poems of my favorite author and poet, Langston Hughes. I will start the month with my favorite poem and share a poem a day for the entire month. I am copying this concept from my friend Pammy Pam over at An Unconventional Librarian. Langston Hughes is an iconic figure from the Harlem Renaissance. His poems, letters, short stories and books gave voice to an entire generation at a pivotal point in American History. He is worth celebrating because his work was just that good. He is worth celebrating because he influenced generations of poets, writers and essayists who followed him. He is worth celebrating because he is my favorite author of all time.
You may ask what place does poetry or celebrations of Black History month have in this blog that was created to encourage, inspire and motivate women to be their best at work and home. I would answer that I am an African-American woman so black history is my history and when you understand and appreciate it, you come closer to understanding and appreciating me. I would also answer that poetry, like all forms of artistic expression fuels our passions, gives us hope makes us think and makes life richer and better.
Mother to Son by Langston Hughes
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin‘ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So, boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps.
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin‘, honey,
I’se still climbin‘,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
This has been my favorite poem since I was ten years old. It has stood the test of time in my life. As a child, I identified with the mother in the poem. I saw myself climbing stairs, overcoming obstacles and reaching my goals. As a young wife, I saw the mother as a partner and the son as my husband as I encouraged him to reach is goals and I followed him to achieve his dreams. Now, as a mother of four children, I see myself as the mother again. I push my children to move forward to keep going and to take action now to achieve their goals and to always expect victory.
For another look at my favorite words from other people, check out the following.
McKay was talking about the mask that black people in America wore in front of the white world during his lifetime from 1872 to 1906. During that time, blacks did not enjoy the rights and privileges they do today so in order to survive they had to hide their true feelings about the injustice they faced. If instead of wearing a mask, a black man were to show how he truly felt about not being able to get fair pay, being treated unfairly and being denied equal protection and opportunity, he very likely would face imprisonment or death.
Wonderful Wednesday – Wonderful Words – Phenomenal Women
Every person should have a positive self-image. There is something powerful and enlightening about having a good self-image. When I am around people who stand up straight and think they are wonderful, it is encouraging and empowering and I like it! Appropriate self-pride is contagious. When I get all dolled up and start strutting my stuff, my twin daughters get excited and start to prance around. They feel pretty and special. They catch my phenomenon!
If you want to get some Langston Hughes books of your own, check out the following. Please note, these are affiliate links which means I may earn income if you purchase one of these books.
1. This is the book I keep on my desk in my office. It is worn out and the edges are frayed because I use it so much. It was a gift from my husband which makes it a special treasure. Selected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics)
2. The Simple stories were my introduction to Langston Hughes. They are an incredible combination of entertainment, sociology and politics of the time. The Early Simple Stories (Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Vol 7)