Langston Hughes: I, Too, Sing America

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With the rise in the number of educated African Americans and the new migration away from the South to the North: The Harlem Renaissance emerged as a movement in which African American culture flourished exceedingly well. The movement was centralized in New York, where Langston Hughes temporarily attended Columbia University. He did not stay long though and often moved from place to place. This may have influenced his writing, but Hughes never related much of his writing to himself and his experiences. He mostly wrote to African Americans and celebrated their culture. This is evident in “I, too” which was written in 1926 and published into Hughes’ first book “The Weary Blues”. Hughes artfully crafts a poem in which he perfectly describes the…show more content…
Hughes openly declared Walt Whitman as one of his favorite authors, so naturally he incorporated that into his writing. In “I, Too” he makes the connection in the first line with “I, Too, Sing America”. This is a direct reference to Walt Whitman’s poem “I Hear America Singing”. Whitman’s poem describes what America looks like by the way that Americans works, and this ultimately makes America unlike anywhere else. The descriptions of the different people forces a sense of pride into those who read the words, but when one reads “I, too” the emotion grows. Another author Hughes enjoyed was W.E.B. Du Bois, from his essay “The Souls of Black Folks” an idea of double consciousness. The concept explains, especially in African Americans, that a body is home to two souls. In “I, too” Hughes mixes these two authors and uses them to personify America as having two identities. Evidence of this lays in the reluctance of Hughes to name white Americans (although interpreted at the surface) as “they”. Hughes recognizes that America has made smaller efforts by allowing them rights (the 14th and 15th Amendment), which he illustrates in lines “But I laugh / and eat well, / and grow strong.” (5-7). Thus they are not starved or depressed, but moving forward. However, “They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes,” (3-4) is a line that identifies those parts of America as racist. America struggles to be a fair America even. In the end, Hughes has faith that America is bound to realize their true selves. The line “Besides, / They’ll see how beautiful I am” (15-16) describes this view
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