Born and raised in New York, I am proud to have this state assist in the shaping my values. Values that may not be the same as his or hers or yours, but that are true to me and allow you to have your truth too, whatever that may be.
And so today, I welcome to our celebration a guest who knows a thing or two about New York values as well. Hailing from the Harlem Renaissance, a literary and cultural movement during the 1920 and 30’s centered in Harlem where creativity erupted amongst the artist in NYC and helped stimulate the Civil Rights Movement, he is a guest, more courageous and thoughtful than any politician, and gets my vote because he is “true.”
“Start spreading the news,” it’s
Theme For English B
by Langston Hughes
The speaker in this poem has all the things I would want in a leader. He is thoughtful and honest.
“Then, it will be true.
I wonder if it’s that simple?”
He is aware the truth is complicated. He is wise enough to understand that what is true for him, may not be the truth for all.
He not only is intelligent, focused and educated, he is a person of action. As soon as he gets his college assignment, he starts the work. And he knows what work is. He is obviously not a privileged “one percenter.” He can only afford a room in a hostel.
“the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:”
He does not advocate fear mongering. He knows he is unlike most and it's OK. Being the only black student in his class, he, too, is also the same as everyone else. Beneath our colors, cultures, religions, political affiliations, etc., we all like the same things.
“Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.”
It is obvious that he cherishes humanity and has the courage to say that, even though we have differences, we can still work together and learn from those differences.
“You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
He is inspiring, humble,
“As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me”
Like the song says, if you can make it here, you can make it just about anywhere.
“This is my page for English B.”
This poem also paints a great depiction of what true New York values are. It gets “Right through the very heart of it, New York, New York.” It should make all of us, Americans, feel like we have the power, no matter what, whoever we are, to tackle challenging issues, and to ask important questions.
Let’s continue to learn from one another and “March” on.