Read “Freedom Train” (1947) by Langston Hughes and then answer two of the questions below by commenting on this blog post:
If my children ask me, Daddy, please explain
Why there’s Jim Crow stations for the Freedom Train?
What shall I tell my children? …You tell me-
’cause freedom ain’t freedom when a man ain’t free.
Will his Freedom Train come zoomin’ down the track
Gleamin’ in the sunlight for white and black?
Not stoppin’ at no stations marked COLORED nor WHITE,
Just stoppin’ in the fields in the broad daylight,
Stoppin’ in the country in the wide-open air
Where there never was a Jim Crow signs nowhere,
No Welcomin’ Committees, nor Politicians of note,
No Mayors and such for such for which colored can vote,
And nary a sign of a color line-
For the Freedom Train will be yours and mine!
Then maybe from their graves in Anzio
The G.I.’s who fought will say, We wanted it so!
Black men and white will say, Ain’t it fine?
At home they got a train that’s yours and mine!
Choose any two questions that you find intriguing and answer them briefly in your own words. Don’t forget to mention your sources!
- How does the poem make you feel? How would you describe the feelings of the person who wrote this poem?
- There really was such a train as the freedom train in 1947. Find out what it carried and which American president came up with the idea.
- What is Jim Crow?
- What is G.I. short for and which war is going on at the time?
- Where is Anzio and what happened there?
- Describe briefly who Langston Hughes was in regards to the civil rights movement.
- Why is Langston Hughes so appalled by the Freedom Train? Think about the historical setting.
- Can you think of an artist today (rapper, filmmaker, author etc.) who makes social concerns part of his/her artistic work. Who and how?