Prelude to Our Age: A Negro History Poem – Langston Hughes (pt.3)

Part 2

Yet Boston’s Phillis Wheatley, slave, wrote her poems,
And Washington, the general, praised –
Washington who righted wrong –
But those of us who had no rights
made an unwritten song:

Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
And tell old Pharaoh
To let my people go….

Black Crispus Attucks died
That our land might be free.
His death
Did not free me.
When Banneker made his almanac
I was not free.
When Toussaint freed the blacks of Haiti,
I was not free.

In other lands Dumas and Pushkin wrote –
But we,
Who could not write, made songs:

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home…
Oh, I looked over Jordan
And what did I see –

Phillis, Crispus, Toussaint,
Banneker, Dumas, Pushkin,
All of these were me –
Not free:

As long as one
Man is in chains,
No man is free.

Click here for Part 4.

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