Topics for Further Study
In this poem, Hughes asks what happens to a dream is put on hold, giving a series of possibilities. Write a poem in which you tell readers what does happen to such a dream. Use concrete imagery, as Hughes does, to speak of the dream as a real, tangible object.
Do research on one of the race riots of the mid-1960s, such as the one in Watts (Los Angeles), Chicago and Atlanta. What was the immediate cause? What social conditions led up to the violence? Write a report that explains the situation to your class.
Why is this poem named "Harlem"? What other locations would have had a similar meaning? Name the social events that have occurred since the poem's publication in 1951 that you feel help prove that Hughes's fears were realistic.