Children, I come back today,
to tell you a story of the long dark way.
That I had to climb, that I had to know,
in order that the race might
live and grow.
Look at my face -- dark as the night--
Yet shining like the sun with love's true light.
I am the child
they stole from the sand,
three hundred years ago in Africa's land.
I am the dark girl who crossed the wide sea,
carrying in my body the seed of the free.
I am the woman
who worked in the field,
bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.
I am the one who labored as a slave,
beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave.
Children sold away from me, husband sold, too.
No safety, no love, no respect was I due.
years in the deepest South,
but God put a song and a prayer in my mouth.
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.
Now, through my children, young and free,
I realize the blessings denied to me.
I couldn't read then.
I couldn't write.
I had nothing, back there, in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears,
but I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
the road was hot with sun,
but I had to keep on till my work was done.
I had to keep on! No stopping for me--
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother.
Deep in my breast--the Negro mother.
I had only hope then, but now through you,
dark ones of today, my dreams must come true.
All you dark
children in the world out there,
remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow--
make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my past a road to the light,
out of the darkness, the ignorance, the
Lift high my banner out of the dust,
stand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let
none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver's track.
Remember how the strong in struggle and strife,
bar you the way, and deny you life.
But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers,
impel you forever up the great stairs--
For I will
be with you, till no white brother
Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother.
~ Langston Hughes