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Langston’s Reminder, Langston’s Place

Langston Hughes (1902-1967), poet, novelist, playwright, columnist and social activist
Langston Hughes (1902-1967), poet, novelist, playwright, columnist and social activist

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the black man bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the black man, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The abuse and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again

– Langston Hughes

It seems a lot of us could do with a re-read of Langston Hughes’ poem, “Let America Be America Again” … I love this country but it never was and is not now a good time had by all. Let’s work together and continue to make it and the world better place (i.e., safe, respectful, diverse, and equitable). Let’s not go back(ward) again. J.D.

Δ

Langston Houghs' House in Harlem
Langston Hughes’ House in Harlem

Misery

Misery is when you heard
on the radio that the neighborhood
you live in is a slum but
you always thought it was home.

– Langston Hughes

“Langston Hughes House is a historic home located in Harlem, New York, New York. It is an Italianate style dwelling built in 1869. It is a three story with basement, rowhouse faced in brownstone and measuring 20 feet wide and 45 feet deep. Noted African American poet and author Langston Hughes (1902-1967) occupied the top floor as his workroom from 1947 to 1967. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.” [Wikipedia]

I, Too, Arts Collective

Harlem-based writer, Renee Watson, just initiated an Indigogo campaign to raise the money to rent Langston’s house and turn it into a cultural center, “for emerging and established artists in Harlem to create, connect, and showcase work…” MORE

If you are reading this from an email subscription, it’s likely that you will have to link through to the site to view the video …

According to Renee, the “I, Too, Arts Collective” is a non-profit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. Our first major project is to provide a space for emerging and established artists in Harlem to create, connect, and showcase work. Our goal is to lease and renovate the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived in Harlem as a way to not only preserve his legacy but also to build on it and impact young poets and artists.”

Photo credits: Langston Hughes’ photograph is from the Carl Van Vetchten collection of the U.S. Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division id# cph.3a42821 and is in the public domain; the photograph of his house is courtesy of Americasroof under CC BY 3.0 license

The Last Enemy …

KIF_0815DEATH BE NOT PROUD (Holy Sonnet X)

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and souls deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better than thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.

– John Donne

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians, 15:26

Today we are mourning the loss of another friend, a good man, Ralph, to whom this is dedicated. Hence the sharing of this poem rather than the usual Thursday post.

LATE-BREAKING NEWS: WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED: Church Gun-Violence Sit-In With Congresswoman Jackie Speier

Congresswoman, Jackie Speier, Democrat, CA
Congresswoman, Jackie Speier, Democrat, California

Dear Friends,

No one should have to live in fear of losing their life, especially when going to school or church, or visiting a night club, community center, or movie theater. However, the stark and shameful reality in America is hundreds of people have lost their lives to gun violence in such places. That is why Congress must act now to pass common sense legislation.

On June 23rd, 2016, Congressman John Lewis led 170 Members of Congress in a historic protest on the floor of the House of Representatives. The civil rights icon sat down to demand action against gun violence, which kills 33,000 people in our country every year and injures another 80,000 individuals. I was proud to join my colleague then, and I continue to work with him and other Democratic Members of Congress to bring a vote on common sense gun safety measures to the House floor. This includes sit-ins, town halls, roundtable discussions and more back in our home districts. On the 4th of July, I was joined by 100 people at a sit-in in front of a movie theater in Redwood City, where we declared our independence from the NRA and discussed possible solutions to this national epidemic.

On Sunday, August 28, 2016, I invite you to join me for a sit-in at the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo Church at the conclusion of the 10 a.m. service. I will not stop demanding action until this Republican-led Congress calls a vote on universal background checks and banning terrorists from buying guns. These are modest measures that the majority of Americans support, including the majority of American gun owners.

Gun-violence Sit-In
Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo Church
300 E. Santa Inez Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94401
Sunday, August 28, 2016
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

RSVP HERE

Please join me in sending a clear message to Congress, the NRA, and other powerful members of the gun lobby. We will not be silenced!

All the best,
Jackie

Congresswoman Jackie Speier
Organizer of Church Gun Violence Sit-in
Congresswoman Jackie Speier represents California’s 14th Congressional District.

100,000 PEACEMAKERS FOR CHANGE… HEADS-UP: Seattle-area, Washington State

13707609_1255278171171003_8229172766786945972_n-1As an offshoot of 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC), this event is organized by The Bardo Group Beguines‘ Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again and The BeZine) at Riverton Park United Methodist Church, 3118 S 140th Street, Tukwilia, Washington 98168 on Saturday, September 24th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. with a social gathering from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Terri will lead a peacemaking circle that will focus on earth justice. She says, “We want to make a public witness of peace and peace for the earth. Hope to see you there!”

Rev. Terri Stewart, Associate Pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church, Canoness at The Bardo Group Beguines, Director at Youth-Chaplaincy-Coalition
Rev. Terri Stewart, Associate Pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church,
Canoness at The Bardo Group Beguines,
Director at Youth-Chaplaincy-Coalition

The Peacemaking Circle will focus on ecological justice by following the tradition of the Tagish and Tlingit First Nation people of the Yukon Territories as taught to me by Saroeum Phoung.

“The principles of Peacemaking Circles are embodied in the talking piece. A talking piece holds the power of both talking and listening. It gives everyone an equal say as it relentlessly passes from person to person in a clockwise manner.

“Circles intentionally create a sacred space that lifts barriers between people, opening fresh possibilities for connection, collaboration and mutual understanding. The process works because it brings people together in a way that allows them to see one another as human beings and to talk about what matters.

“We will be utilizing the method of a talking circle that allows different voices to come together to explore a particular topic, the environment, from many different perspectives. This allows a diversity of voices, thoughts, and ideas to surface.” Terri Stewart

The Facebook Page for this event is HERE.

That same afternoon there will also be a food drive in process at Riverton for the Tukewila Pantry Emergency Food Bank and donations of food or money are welcome. Here is the wish list if you are able to help:

Canned Meats/Fish
Canned Vegetables
Canned Fruits
Canned Meals (i.e. stews, soups, spaghetti, chili, ravioli, etc.) Macaroni & Cheese
Dry or Canned Milk
Peanut Butter
Dry Goods (i.e. pastas, rice, beans, cold and hot cereals, baking mix, etc.)

*****

© words and photograph, Terri Stewart

Remember, wherever you are in the world, go to 100TPC to find an event in your area or to register to hold one and no matter where you are, you can also participate in The BeZine’s 100TPC virtual event.

Of note: Michael Rothenberg, cofounder of the global peace initiative, 100TPC, announced yesterday that 500 events are now registered. 

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