"The Colored Soldier" by Langston Hughes
When black soldiers returned home, they encountered increased hatred
and violence. In April of 1919, ten black veterans in uniform were
lynched, some of them burned alive in the South. Langston Hughes addressed
this vicious homecoming and the unanswered promise of equality to
African-Americans in his dramatic poem "The Colored Soldier."
The poem's narrator dreams that his brother, the fallen soldier, takes
pride at the equality for which he fought and died. The narrator cries
out, "It's a lie! It's a lie! Every word they said. And it's better a
thousand times you're in France dead." Written to be performed on
stage, this poem dramatizes Hughes's response to post-war discrimination
and violence. Under Hughes's stage direction, the rising sense of outrage
expressed by the narrator is reflected in the "fierce and angry"
reaction of the listening crowd.
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"The Colored Soldier" from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes's "The Colored Soldier"
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