African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

"Proem" by Langston Hughes

I am a Negro:
Black as the night is black,
Black like the depths of my Africa.
I've been a slave:

Caesar told me to keep his door-steps clean .
I brushed the boots of Washington.
I've been a worker:

Under my hand the pyramids arose.
I made mortar for the Woolworth Building.

I've been a singer:
All the way from Africa to Georgia
I carried my sorrow songs.

I made ragtime.
I've been a victim:

The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo.
They lynch me now in Texas.
I am a Negro:
Black as the night is black,
Black like the depths of my Africa.

 

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