Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Langston Hughes and Barack Obama














(Langston Hughes 1902-1967)



Langston Hughes and Barack Obama





Let's lay down some lines for Langston Hughes

this day of news: 20 January 2009. A fine

piece of the dream's no longer deferred, though

the thought's occurred that Mr. Hughes

might focus on the people out of work or,

working, out of money. (Remember:

he gave even Roosevelt what-for.) Still I see

him in a Harlem bar, sitting next to

Jesse B., speaking in his clipped

Midwest English, having sipped

something fortified, brown eyes bright and wide.

He'd be smoking if they'd let him, saying

or thinking, "Lord, a day has come I never even

dreamed to dream in 1921." He'd go back

to the brownstone with its small garden

in front, sit down, and write a simple, profound

lyric capturing the spirit of President Obama's day.

Cross the Jordan, cross the Nile, cross the Congo--

and that Ocean, too. Cross the Harlem and

the Hudson Rivers. Cross the Mississsipi. Dear

Madame Johnson: Mr. Obama crossed the Potomac.

That's a fact, no not some dream. Think

of Mr. Hughes's rivers. The soul shivers.

Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom

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