July 4th, 2020
For the last 2 or more decades of my life, this day is a reminder to me, personally, of all America is not.
The other 364 days of the year, we unconsciously (or maybe we’re semi-aware based on our citizenship status) enjoy the many things America, our home, offers us. Especially if we compare our country to other nations that have even more injustice, political unrest, and violence against their citizenry within their borders.
I maintain this: until there is Justice for All, there is no justice.
Until institutionally-sanctioned violence of every kind is acknowledged, examined, addressed and redressed, always striving toward attaining the best possible equity at every end of the spectrum for the individuals who make up our society, then our society, as a whole, will never know freedom or peace.
Below, a poem by Langston Hughes (1902-1967), “Let America Be America Again,” its final line encapsulating what has become an ironically tragic commentary on where we are today as a nation, instead of where we might have been as a people, united.
– 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.)
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 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.
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.”
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,
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 rape 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!
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