What is the main theme of "The Negro Mother"?

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The main theme of “The Negro Mother” is the need for African American people to recall and embrace their past to obtain the strength to continue the struggle for freedom in the present and into the future.

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The main theme of Langston Hughes's poem “The Negro Mother” is the need to remember and cherish the past to embrace the present and the future.

The poem is spoken by a mother figure that represents the three hundred years of slavery for African Americans in the US. She speaks of the history of her people, for it is history that gives birth to, that shapes and forms, her people even in their freedom. The speaker recalls the journey from Africa and the hard labor of a slave as well as the grief of being separated from family members. She complains that “no safety, no love, no respect was I due.” She kept “trudging through the lonely years” in the hot sun through the valley of tears. She had to keep on going, working and striving without stopping.

Yet the speaker, and with her African American people, held fast to their prayers and their dreams. She is now “reaching the goal,” for her children are free. She was the seed of that freedom. The struggle, however, is not over. The children face a difficult path ahead. To trod it, they must remember their mother and her pain and sorrow. They must hold fast to their history as a people and obtain strength from it so they can continue to fight for their freedom in new ways.

Now their mother encourages them to march along bravely, breaking down the barriers that stand in their way. Her dreams and her prayers go with them, pushing them along until at last they have reached true freedom in the light.

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