Sunday, April 12, 2009

Another View

Dear Mr. President

Langston Hughes

President Roosevelt, you
Are our Commander in Chief.
As such, I appeal
To you for relief.

Respectfully, sir,
I await your reply
As I train here to fight,
Perhaps to die.

I am a soldier
Down in Alabam
Wearing the uniform
Of Uncle Sam.

But when I get on the bus
I have to ride in the back.
Rear seats only
For a man who's black.

When I get on the train,
It's the Jim Crow car—
That don't seem to jibe
With what we're fighting for.

Mr. President, sir,
I don't understand
Democracy that
Forgets the black man.

Respectfully, therefore,
I call your attention
To these Jim Crow laws
Your speeches don't mention.

I ask why YOUR soldiers
Must ride in the back,
Because we are black?

I train to fight,
Perhaps to die.
Urgently, sir,
I await your reply.

—People's Voice (July 3, 1943), p. 23