What Do I Read Next?
Hughes published several volumes of autobiography in his lifetime: The Big Sea, published in 1963, covers the period in which this poem was written and the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s.
Hughes was also the author, along with Milton Meltzer and C. Eric Lincoln, of a 1956 book titled A Pictorial History of the Negro in America that was reprinted in 1983 as A Pictorial History of Black Americans. The photos in this book give a vivid sense of the times. For instance, the reader can see separate "Colored" facilities at places such as restaurants, movie balconies, and parking lots. Hughes's text reads like a moderate intellectual whose patience is wearing thin.
The title of Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 award-winning play A Raisin in the Sun is of course taken from this poem. The play, which was the first by a black woman to appear on Broadway, dramatizes almost every concern of African Americans in the 1950s.
Aldron Morris's 1984 study The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for a Change is one of the most comprehensive and thoroughly documented works about the grassroots organizations that brought black citizens together to defeat institutionalized segregation.
The Shaping of Black America by Lerone Bennett, Jr., first published in 1975 and revised in 1991, has proven to be of lasting value as a quick yet insightful overview.