“And yet I swear this oath— America will be!” –Langston Hughes
Posted by Charles II on July 4, 2014
I’m not much of one to celebrate the Fourth. I’ve seen many foreign lands and known many of their residents, enough to know that America is no worse than many other countries, and better than quite a few. I’m in no manner anti-American or pro-any other country. But I know my history.
America is the nation that made the promise of equality, of liberty, and of the freedom to pursue happiness… at the very time it held slaves in chains and Native Americans at the point of a gun, a time when women and children were chattel, and people were in many places free to practice their religion only if they were Protestants. America was founded on a great hypocrisy. Yet the ideals that were enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and then in the Constitution have inspired people yearning to be free–including people crushed by our own nation. The Haitian Revolution, for example, was inspired by the French Revolution, which was, in turn, inspired by the American Revolution. We helped to crush the Haitians and have been doing so again and again even to this day. Despite our terrible character as a nation, something in our national soul yearns toward freedom, justice, compassion, and truth. As the Apostle Paul said, we are at war within ourselves, between a materialism that leads toward empire abroad and rampant inequality at home, and a deep spiritual yearning toward peace abroad and righteous living at home.
And so, one way I celebrate the Fourth is with Langston Hughes, the great African American poet who, writing from the depths of Depression and that American apartheid called Jim Crow wrote:
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Take a look at what Shanikka has to say.
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