Most literary scholars consider Langston Hughes to be the most prominent voice of the Harlem Renaissance writers. Hughes brilliantly captured the zeitgeist, or spirit of the age, that produced some of America's most notable African American artists of the early 20th century. The formation of the African American identity, the ongoing struggle for social and economic equality, the legacy of slavery, and the richness of African American culture figure prominently in Hughes's poems, stories, novels, memoirs and plays.
As a poet, Hughes challenged the omission of African Americans in the laboring class catalogued in Walt Whitman's 1860 poem "I Hear America Singing." His "I, Too," written in 1926, reminds readers that African Americans, "the darker brother" will one day emerge from the kitchen and be counted as citizens and patriots.
"Dream Deferred" poses a series of rhetorical questions to challenge white America. The speaker presents several scenarios as a metaphor for the African American...
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