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Friday, February 05, 2016

Poetry Friday--A Poem for Black History Month

Unless you're someone who is a big reader of poetry, if I were to ask you to name a black poet, you'd probably say, "Langston Hughes." Hughes' poetry is accessible and his recognition is justified, so, for today, I'd like to offer this poem by Hughes that is short, provides a tiny history lesson, and, ultimately, is painful to read.

Colored child at carnival:

Where is the Jim Crow section
On this merry-go-round,
Mister, cause I want to ride?
Down South where I come from
White and colored
Can't sit side by side.
Down South on the train
There's a Jim Crow car.
On the bus we're put in the back--
But there ain't no back
To a merry-go-round!
Where's the horse
For a kid that's black?

From Selected Poems of Langston Hughes [811 HUG]

Tricia will be hosting the Round-Up at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Photo by Arthur Rothstein (1939), courtesy Library of Congress.


  1. An excellent poem to intorduce some painful history, and/or to personalise it more for children. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It certainly would get kids to think!

  2. I wonder what they did do? For it is certainly difficult to find the end of a circle. I'm glad that the world is more circular today.

    1. I'm pretty sure they were simply invited not to be at the carnival...

      This, like Countee Cullen's "Incident" drive home to me the ridiculousness of racism.

    2. Truly ridiculous! I also imagine there were separate, but surely not equal, midway rides. (That sounds like a research project in the making.)

  3. Diane, I have never read this poem by Hughes. It is quite appropriate as a prompt for a Black History Month discussion. Thanks.

    1. I'm glad you think so, Carol.

  4. I love Langston Hughes' deceptively-simple poems. There is power in those lines.