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Thomas Jefferson once said, "I like dreams of the future better than the history of the...

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zapatamonica | (Level 1) Honors

Posted May 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM via web

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Thomas Jefferson once said, "I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past." Why do  you think Langston Hughes would agree or not agree with this sentiment? 

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 28, 2013 at 12:44 PM (Answer #1)

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Yes, Langston Hughes would agree with Thomas Jefferson's statement that dreams of the future are indeed better than the past for several reasons.  First, as one of the important writers of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes was an influential spokesman for the black people of this country.  To look back was to look at slavery, Jim Crow laws, the killing of black people simply for their color, and the abuses perpetrated on black people.  To look forward and dream of what could be was a very different thing.  In Hughes' poem "Dreams", he says, "Hold onto dreams" for  with no hope, no dreams, no vision of the future, "life is a broken-winged bird which cannot fly".  Hughes believed that young black writers must express what they saw and felt whether black or white people approved or disapproved.  In his book, The Nation, Hughes wrote, "We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves."  I think Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also used Hughes' vision to build his "I Have a Dream" speech which has many of the same ideas.  Surely, Langston Hughes understood the power of the dream, of Jefferson's statement about preferring dreams of the future better than looking at the past and all that it contained.

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