I Would Like to Introduce You to Langston Hughes


 

 

The section of New York City called Harlem was the home of a very wonderful poet during the 1920s and 1930s. Langston Hughes was one of the most influential black poets of the twentieth century. The blog I wrote and titled “I, too, am America” is a quote from this very talented man.  He was born in 1902 in Missouri, however he lived most of his life in Harlem.

 

Langston was a mentor and inspiration to many other leading black writers and writers. In his poetry, he sought to foster black pride, break stereotypes, and outrage people by telling people about the injustices of racism and inequality. He wrote about lynchings, poverty, and the inner rage of blacks confined and humiliated by segregation. Hughes considered himself the people’s poet. He wanted his writings to be read and not studied. His writing is direct, accessible and often dramatic.

 

For instance, his poem “Ku Klux,” is written in the first person voice of a black kidnapped by the Klan. The title of the poem is truncated, but all of Hughes readers knew what the third word word would be. The poem concludes inconclusively, but readers understood the grim fate awaiting the man accused of “sassin’ ” white folks.

 

Hughes first poem was published in the Crisis, the NAACP magazine founded by W.E.B. DuBois. Hughes graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

 

He often wrote dark and pessimistic poetry, but considering his world, I believe it is understandable. Hughes did interweave his poetry with brighter optimism and humor. During his lifetime, the Civil Right’s Movement made progress toward equality, dignity and some of his work reflected this progress.  Recently, Langston Hughes has been honored as a gay black male icon.

 

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Portait of African American poet Langston Hughes with a statue, 1955. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Portrait of African American poet Langston Hughes 

 

Artists banding together to save Langston Hughes’ historic home in Harlem

Gentrification is a many-headed beast, and now that beast may be coming to devour the former home of Langston Hughes – one of the great pioneers of the Harlem Renaissance.

However, Renée Watson, a local writer who lives near the home, is trying to prevent that from happening. Watson has launched a fundraising campaign in hopes of raising $150,000 to rent the place and turn it into a cultural center.

As of today, the initiative has raised a little over $26,000.

“For the past ten years, I’ve walked past the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and wondered why it was empty,” said Watson on the campaign’s homepage. “How could it be that his home wasn’t preserved as a space for poets, a space to honor his legacy?”

Photo: fullaccessnyc.com
Photo: fullaccessnyc.com

“I’d pass the brownstone, shake my head, and say, ‘Someone should do something.’ I have stopped saying, ‘Someone should do something’ and decided that someone is me,” she added.

Watson also launched I, Too, Arts Collective (named in honor of Hughes’ poem I, Too, Sing America), a non-profit whose first major goal is to lease the apartment and “provide a space for emerging and established artists in Harlem to create, connect, and showcase work.”

Watson has lived in the city just over ten years, and she reached out to other writers once she learned of the possible fate of Langston Hughes’ home.

Old brownstones in the area are being torn down to make room for more modern buildings at an alarming rate. There is fear that the money won’t be raised in enough time, but “the current owner has agreed to hold off on selling to see how the project unfolds,” CNN Money reports.

Jason Reynolds, a young adult author, answered Watson’s call to action immediately. “I kept thinking, this is just like New York, nothing is sacred,” he told CNN Money.

 

The Reality of Black LIves Matter


 

Many are speaking ill of the organization Black Lives Matter. Many untruths are being said but these people are members of the organization and are speaking truth. I hope this will clarify issues for some people. Ultimately, I believe all lives matter. However. I do believe for America it must start with Black Lives Matter. We have been a racist country since our founding. The issue of slavery has been the ghost rattling keys in our closets.

 

I wish the Founding Fathers had succeeded in their attempts. They did try long and hard. They decided it would be a less emotional issue for Americans to handle after we had been a country for a while. They meant well. But it is still here and it is now an abyss which divides America.

 

I want this to be healed. I want an end to racism and soon. I don’t want more people to die.

 

Let today be the day you look inside your heart of hearts and find the racism that is still lingering and hiding. Pull it out, vow to look at all people as your brothers and sisters. They truly are. We are equal. Murdering each other, lynching, hating will not change the fact that all color of people are equal. We are all children of the Universe, made from the same matter as the stars. Let us accomplish what the Founding Fathers weren’t able to do: make America truly, now and forever equal. equal for all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

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Paul Revere


The poem you learned in school was by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and it is a good rendition of the night’s events.  For those of you who are younger or in other countries, the poem we are talking about refers to our revolutionary war fought by the United States to gain its freedom from England
The following account was written by Paul Revere himself.  It is an intriguing view which shows the bravery of the patriots who wanted freedom from England for the Colonies.
It must have been an amazing sight– the English in their red, proper uniforms and their white powdered wigs, coming by ship from England; and the Colonists, most of them farmers, hunters, inn keepers, silversmiths (as was Paul Revere) in their simple clothes, coming from their simple houses, ready to give up what little they had to make their land their own, its own country.

 

I’m sure that compared to today’s civil wars and revolutions, ours was tame, but it took courage and valor on the part of the colonists to fight the war.  Paul Revere was one of the those colonists and his ride through the dark night to warn his compatriots that the English were coming has made it through 241 years of history.

 

I hope you enjoy reading Mr. Revere’s account.

 

For my American friends, have a happy Independence Day.  For those in other countries around the world — have a lovely weekend.

I wish you all independence, freedom from oppression and equality

 

Namaste,

Barbara

Paul Revere's ride

Paul Revere’s ride

Paul Revere’s Account of His Midnight Ride to Lexington

1775

I, PAUL REVERE, of Boston, in the colony of the Massachusetts Bay in New England; of lawful age, do testify and say; that I was sent for by Dr. Joseph Warren, of said Boston, on the evening of the 18th of April, about 10 o’clock; when he desired me, ”to go to Lexington, and inform Mr. Samuel Adams, and the Hon. John Hancock Esq. that there was a number of soldiers, composed of light troops, and grenadiers, marching to the bottom of the common, where there was a number of boats to receive them; it was supposed that they were going to Lexington, by the way of Cambridge River, to take them, or go to Concord, to destroy the colony stores.”

I proceeded immediately, and was put across Charles River and landed near Charlestown Battery; went in town, and there got a horse. While in Charlestown, I was informed by Richard Devens Esq. that he met that evening, after sunset, nine officers of the ministerial army, mounted on good horses, and armed, going towards Concord.

I set off, it was then about 11 o’clock, the moon shone bright. I had got almost over Charlestown Common, towards Cambridge, when I saw two officers on horse-back, standing under the shade of a tree, in a narrow part of the road. I was near enough to see their holsters and cockades. One of them started his horse towards me, the other up the road, as I supposed, to head me, should I escape the first. I turned my horse short about, and rode upon a full gallop for Mistick Road. He followed me about 300 yards, and finding he could not catch me, returned. I proceeded to Lexington, through Mistick, and alarmed Mr. Adams and Col. Hancock.

After I had been there about half an hour Mr. Daws arrived, who came from Boston, over the Neck.

We set off for Concord, and were overtaken by a young gentleman named Prescot, who belonged to Concord, and was going home. When we had got about half way from Lexington to Concord, the other two stopped at a house to awake the men, I kept along. When I had got about 200 yards ahead of them, I saw two officers as before. I called to my company to come up, saying here was two of them, (for I had told them what Mr. Devens told me, and of my being stopped). In an instant I saw four of them, who rode up to me with their pistols in their bands, said ”G—d d—n you, stop. If you go an inch further, you are a dead man.” Immediately Mr. Prescot came up. We attempted to get through them, but they kept before us, and swore if we did not turn in to that pasture, they would blow our brains out, (they had placed themselves opposite to a pair of bars, and had taken the bars down). They forced us in. When we had got in, Mr. Prescot said ”Put on!” He took to the left, I to the right towards a wood at the bottom of the pasture, intending, when I gained that, to jump my horse and run afoot. Just as I reached it, out started six officers, seized my bridle, put their pistols to my breast, ordered me to dismount, which I did. One of them, who appeared to have the command there, and much of a gentleman, asked me where I came from; I told him. He asked what time I left . I told him, he seemed surprised, said ”Sir, may I crave your name?” I answered ”My name is Revere. ”What” said he, ”Paul Revere”? I answered ”Yes.” The others abused much; but he told me not to be afraid, no one should hurt me. I told him they would miss their aim. He said they should not, they were only waiting for some deserters they expected down the road. I told him I knew better, I knew what they were after; that I had alarmed the country all the way up, that their boats were caught aground, and I should have 500 men there soon. One of them said they had 1500 coming; he seemed surprised and rode off into the road, and informed them who took me, they came down immediately on a full gallop. One of them (whom I since learned was Major Mitchel of the 5th Reg.) clapped his pistol to my head, and said he was going to ask me some questions, and if I did not tell the truth, he would blow my brains out. I told him I esteemed myself a man of truth, that he had stopped me on the highway, and made me a prisoner, I knew not by what right; I would tell him the truth; I was not afraid. He then asked me the same questions that the other did, and many more, but was more particular; I gave him much the same answers. He then ordered me to mount my horse, they first searched me for pistols. When I was mounted, the Major took the reins out of my hand, and said ”By G—d Sir, you are not to ride with reins I assure you”; and gave them to an officer on my right, to lead me. He then ordered 4 men out of the bushes, and to mount their horses; they were country men which they had stopped who were going home; then ordered us to march. He said to me, ”We are now going towards your friends, and if you attempt to run, or we are insulted, we will blow your brains out.” When we had got into the road they formed a circle, and ordered the prisoners in the center, and to lead me in the front. We rode towards Lexington at a quick pace; they very often insulted me calling me rebel, etc., etc. After we had got about a mile, I was given to the sergeant to lead, he was ordered to take out his pistol, (he rode with a hanger,) and if I ran, to execute the major’s sentence.

When we got within about half a mile of the Meeting House we heard a gun fired. The Major asked me what it was for, I told him to alarm the country; he ordered the four prisoners to dismount, they did, then one of the officers dismounted and cut the bridles and saddles off the horses, and drove them away, and told the men they might go about their business. I asked the Major to dismiss me, he said he would carry me, let the consequence be what it will. He then ordered us to march.

When we got within sight of the Meeting House, we heard a volley of guns fired, as I supposed at the tavern, as an alarm; the Major ordered us to halt, he asked me how far it was to Cambridge, and many more questions, which I answered. He then asked the sergeant, if his horse was tired, he said yes; he ordered him to take my horse. I dismounted, and the sergeant mounted my horse; they cut the bridle and saddle of the sergeant’s horse, and rode off down the road. I then went to the house were I left Messrs. Adams and Hancock, and told them what had happened; their friends advised them to go out of the way; I went with them, about two miles across road.

After resting myself, I set off with another man to go back to the tavern, to inquire the news; when we got there, we were told the troops were within two miles. We went into the tavern to get a trunk of papers belonging to Col. Hancock. Before we left the house, I saw the ministerial troops from the chamber window. We made haste, and had to pass through our militia, who were on a green behind the Meeting House, to the number as I supposed, about 50 or 60, I went through them; as I passed I heard the commanding officer speak to his men to this purpose; ”Let the troops pass by, and don’t molest them, without they begin first.” I had to go across road; but had not got half gunshot off, when the ministerial troops appeared in sight, behind the Meeting House. They made a short halt, when one gun was fired. I heard the report, turned my head, and saw the smoke in front of the troops. They immediately gave a great shout, ran a few paces, and then the whole fired. I could first distinguish irregular firing, which I supposed was the advance guard, and then platoons; at this time I could not see our militia, for they were covered from me by a house at the bottom of the street.

s/PAUL REVERE.

 

 

Map of Paul Revere's Ride

Map of Paul Revere’s Ride

 

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Memorial Plaque for Paul Revere’s Ride

This is What I Always Say…


Hello everyone,

I am writing today to share something that many of you who have followed me here at WordPress have heard me say before. We are not born racist.  We are born completely loving and accepting of goodness. We are born not seeing each other differently but as a version of ourselves. We are not racist at birth. What happens? Well, we are taught by others, by adults to be racist. We are taught to care what color we are and what color others are. We are taught that color has value. Some colors are more important than others.

 

Being a painter as well as a photographer, color is important to me. The color of a flower, a bird, a tree, the color of sand at the beach, the color of the majestic mountains which scrape the sky. When I am painting, I often mix two or perhaps three colors to create the perfect color for what I am painting in the world. One color is not needed more than others. Some colors are needed in just a little dab. Sometimes you wash a little color over what you have already painted to enhance the color. It doesn’t really change it. It deepens or accentuates the color. Every color on my palate is just as important to me as the next one. Yes, they are different, but each has equal value to the heart and to this beautiful Universe.

 

I included the Iris below because it is an unusual color. I raised it and photographed it. It not a common color for an iris, but it is a pretty color. And the photograph is my gift to you. I can’t really give you a gift but this is as close as I can come. Please accept it in the spirit in which it is given.

 

Golden Iris. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2014

Golden Iris. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2014

 

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I am also writing this blog in memory of every human being, adult or child, who has suffered in any way or has been killed because of the color of their skin. I am writing for every grief stricken parent who will never be able to fill the hole within themselves. I am writing for every sibling left behind because their sister or brother is dead because of the color of their skin. I am writing for every lost sibling who will never laugh together over a private joke. I write today for everyone who is different in some manner and is afraid that one day someone will kill them for their differences.

 

I am writing this today for a young man. A young man who worked for me along time ago. He was a hard worker, he had a good sense of humor, he had a good and loving heart. He offered someone a ride home one evening and the person slit his throat because he was different. He bled out all alone. I am sure he was afraid, and wondering why? Why? Why?

Because he was different and this person hated him for being different. Labels were applied by the stranger who killed him and so he slowly bled out behind the wheel of his car alone. Alone and gone too soon.

 

“Immature grapes are made by the breath of the Master.

Then the sourness of duality, hate, and strife disappears,

and they are peeled of their skins to become one in the wine.”

—Rumi

This Land is Your Land


labor-day-salute

This land is your land

–Woody Guthrie

 

This land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me

As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting
This land was made for you and me

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people
By the relief office I seen my people
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking that freedom highway
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me

 

 

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America is founded on one idea:  That ALL are created equal.  Regardless of color, country of origin, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, social class, education, economic status, this land belongs to us all.

 

May there be no quarrels.   May there be no hatred, because truly, this land was made for you and me.

 

Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger

 

Namaste,
Barbara

 

Rebel Girls: 95 Photos of Feminists around the World


I found these images posted by Carmen at AutoStraddle.com — 95 images of women protesting against their poor treatment, against their subjection and for their right to be equal.

 

Here in America we call it the Equal Rights Amendment.  Across the world it is called Human Rights, and it is the most universal right of all — the right to self-determination, regardless of sex or economic class.

 

We are not alone in our struggle, the struggle exists across the globe, wherever women are seen as objects and possessions, instead of equals and partners.

 

Could you look these women in the eye and say:  you are not as good as a man?

 

Namaste,

Barbara

 

 

 

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