The New Declaration aims to bring Americans together, to build a more perfect union that is participatory and representative, with liberty and justice for all. Join us in writing toward the possibilities of an interdependent nation, a nation of support and community.
Let America Be America Again (excerpt)
by Langston Hughes
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.)
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro 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 Negro, 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.
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.
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View the full poem here.
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“Let America be America Again” by Langston Hughes interrogates liberty: what it means, and who traditionally has benefited from it.
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.”)
What does liberty mean to you?
What does your “homeland of the free” look like?
Contribute your voice to our New Declaration by responding to prompts related to Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again.” Select one of the prompts below to join the conversation. No previous writing experience is necessary.
“Let America be…”
Think of an image or idea to represent what you’d like America to be.
“Let [America] be the pioneer on the plain / Seeking a home where he himself is free.”
“America never was…”
Consider the pillars of American ideals that may have been denied to you.
“There’s never been equality for me, / Nor freedom in this ‘homeland of the free.’”
“We, the people, must…”
Complete the sentence with an action you want to take with your fellow citizens.
“We, the people, must redeem / The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers”
Think of a concrete physical object to finish this sentence.
[Liberty is] “a dream so strong, so brave, so true, / That even yet its / mighty daring sings / In every brick and stone”
“Let America be…”
Think of what you want to see the country become, what you want for its people.
[For America, I hope] Liberty / Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, / But opportunity is real, and life is free, / Equality is in the air we breathe.
This will be published along with your post.