`` Don 't Turn Back ' : Langston Hughes, Barack Obama, And Martin Luther King, Jr

1430 Words Oct 23rd, 2016 6 Pages
The Harlem Renaissance was an evolutionary period in terms of African-American cultural expression; in fact, the movement changed the way that black musicians, poets, authors, and even ordinary people perceived themselves. One of the most influential poets of the time was Langston Hughes. Hughes’ works display a pride in being black that most African-Americans are too afraid to show, even today. Moreover, he adamantly refused to submit to the sentiment that he should be ashamed of his heritage, instead believing that “no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.”(p1990 From the Negro Artist). In the article “‘Don’t Turn Back’: Langston Hughes, Barack Obama, and Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Jason Miller, Miller analyzes how Hughes’ poetry has been used by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama and how the House of Un-american Activities Committee affected that use.
Miller begins his article by describing the speech in which King first noticeably took inspiration from Langston Hughes’ works. The speech’s theme is persevering, specifically moving forward, and the speech concludes with Hughes’ poem, Mother to Son. In a speech about a week later, King once again made reference to the poem; however, with several miniscule, but important changes that often slightly altered the interpretation of the passages he drew from. As Miller points out ,though, “King is not being sloppy with Hughes’s verse. Rather, he is riffing on these lines of Hughes’s ‘Mother to Son’ like a…

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