I love Langston Hughes’ poem Hold Fast to Dreams -hence the title for this blog. This poem suggests striving for an ideal, going beyond the ordinary to aspire for something greater than self. The truths in this poem ring true for so many of those upstanders who have found the moral courage and integrity ‘to hold fast to dreams’ of justice, fairness , equality and peace.This can be seen in the lines:
‘for if dreams die
Life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly …’ and
‘for when dreams go,
life is a barren field frozen with snow’
Upstanders are the people who go beyond their own needs and see the ‘humanness’ in others. This blog will shine a light on those upstanders whose values, choices and actions inspire us. You will be expected, as Facing History, Facing Ourselves suggests, to use ‘ your head and your heart’ to understand and reflect on the dilemmas and choices people both in the past and present have made and continue make to consider our year long questions : What do we value? How do we choose? When should difference matter?
Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967, was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance is the name given to the place and time when the arts- literature poetry and the music of jazz- flourished as African Americans flocked to New York. Through this creative explosion and political debate, a new proud identity as African Americans was being created. This pride became part of the momentum towards civil rights.
‘Through his (Hughes) poetry, novels, plays, essays, and children’s books, he promoted equality, condemned racism and injustice, and celebrated African American culture, humor, and spirituality.” (Library of Congress)
The image is from an Amnesty International poster They Cannot Muzzle the Light, 1980 (France) by the French artist Alain Carrier based on a quote by Victor Hugo: “You cannot muzzle the light” which has played into the sub-title of this blog.
“Langston Hughes – America’s Library.” 2009. 21 Nov. 2012 <http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/hughes/aa_hughes_subj.html>