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The Poetry of Langston Hughes

A central figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s and 40s, Missouri-born Langston Hughes used his poetry, novels, plays, and essays to voice his concerns about race and social justice.

One Way Ticket

a picture of Chicago's Railyard

I pick up my life, And take it with me,
And I put it down in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Scranton,
Any place that is North and East, And not Dixie.
I pick up my life And take it on the train,
To Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake
Any place that is North and West, And not South.
I am fed up With Jim Crow laws,
People who are cruel And afraid, Who lynch and run,
Who are scared of me And me of them
I pick up my life And take it away On a one-way ticket
Gone up North Gone out West Gone! 

Bound No'th Blues

a picture of a blues banf

Goin' down de road, Lord, Goin' down de road.
Down de road, Lord, Way, way down de road.
Got to find somebody To help me carry this load.
Road's in front o' me, Nothin to do but walk
Road's in front o' me, Walk….and walk…and walk.
I'd like to meet a good friend To come along an' talk.
Road, road, road, O! Road, road….road…road, road!
Road, road, road, O! On de No'thern road
These Mississippi towns ain't Fit for a hoppin' toad.
Permission to use One Way Ticket and Bound No'th Blues courtesy of The Langston Hughes Estate.

The Poetry of William Crosse

The Land of Hope

photo of people dancing

I've watched the trains as they disappeared
Behind the clouds of smoke,
Carrying the crowds of working men To the land of hope,
Working hard on southern soil, Someone softly spoke;
"Toil and toil, and toil and toil, And yet I'm always broke."
On the farms I've labored hard, And never missed a day;
With wife and children by my side We journeyed on our way.
But now the year is passed and gone, And every penny spent,
And all my little food supplies Were taken 'way for rent.
Yes, we are going to the north!
I don't care to what state, Just as long as I cross the Dixon Line,
From this land of southern hate, Lynched and burned and shot and hung,
And not a word is said.
No law whatever to protect- It's just a "nigger" dead.
Go on, dear brother; you'll ne'er regret;
Just trust in God; pray for the best,
And in the end you're sure to find "Happiness will be thine."
William Crosse's poem appeared in the Chicago Defender, c 1920

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