Langston Hughes | Poetry All-Stars

Langston Hughes
1902-1967

Langston's father once discouraged him from writing poetry. He believed discrimination would keep the young Langston from finding success as a poet. But Langston continued to write, taking on problems like prejudice through his work. In the 1920s, he was a major player in the Harlem Renaissance, a celebration of African-American culture and arts. During the Harlem Renaissance, jazz and blues music inspired Langston's poetry. Langston expressed the beauty and reality of what he called the "low-down" folks.

 

The Kids in School with Me

When I studied my A-B-C's
And learned arithmetic,
I also learned in public school
What makes America tick:

The kid in front
And the kid behind
And the kid across the aisle,
The Italian kid
And the Polish kid
And the girl with the Irish smile,
The colored kid
And the Spanish kid
And the Russian kid my size,
The Jewish kid
And the Grecian kid
And the girl with the Chinese eyes -
We were a regular Noah's ark,
Every race beneath the sun,
But our motto for graduation was:
One for All and All for One!
The kid in front
And the kid behind
And the kid across from me -
Just American kids together -
The kids in school with me.

 

Photo courtesy Library of Congress