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A Collection of Poems Reflecting on the Myth of Independence

As we watch the fireworks this and every Fourth of July, we must remember to keep the voices of Indigenous and Black ancestors just as bright.

The following is a collection of poems that gesture towards a future that honors the voices of Indigenous and Black ancestors, and what they fought for, without erasing them.

Hughes’s poem “I, too” although written in 1925, challenges the ongoing racism that many experience to this day in America. He calls for equality for every American and exposes the hypocrisy of the unfulfilled promise of independence.


I, too

by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”

Then.

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

Published at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Brooks represents a rebellious and defiant group. Rebellion, however, is sometimes necessary for fighting for change. And change can come from anyone if we only have the courage to rebel against oppression and prejudice.

We real cool

by Gwendolyn Brooks