Children, I come back today
To tell you a story of the long dark way
That I had to climb, that I had to know
In order that the race might live and grow.
Look at my face — dark as the night —
Yet shining like the sun with love’s true light.
I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea
Carrying in my body the seed of the free.
I am the woman who worked in the field
Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.
I am the one who labored as a slave,
Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave —
Children sold away from me, I’m husband sold, too.
No safety , no love, no respect was I due.

Three hundred years in the deepest South:
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth .
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
Now, through my children, I’m reaching the goal.

Now, through my children, young and free,
I realized the blessing deed to me.
I couldn’t read then. I couldn’t write.
I had nothing, back there in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears,
But I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me —
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Deep in my breast — the Negro mother.
I had only hope then , but now through you,
Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true:
All you dark children in the world out there,
Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow —
And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my pass a road to the light
Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust.
Stand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver’s track.
Remember how the strong in struggle and strife
Still bar you the way, and deny you life —
But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers
Impel you forever up the great stairs —
For I will be with you till no white brother
Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Langston Hughes's poem The Negro Mother

71 Comments

  1. Donna says:

    My daugter had to do a poem collage for her teacher and she had chose this one. When I read this poem I just fell in love with it, as my child always say,
    “It was Deep!”

  2. Kiyanna says:

    am a black mother of 6 and have read this poem to each of my children. It shows the importance of your past and the appreciation of your future. To know where you come from and where your going. It’s been a long road and journey my dark children but keep on going

  3. Annni P. says:

    I am in high school and my stupid teacher asked us to do a research paper on a poem we like. I chose “The Negro Mother” because it reminds me of the struggle that African Americans faced, and how there are those mothers out there that want us to live better lives, so they tell us to press on and become better people and let nothing nor anyone keep us down.

  4. babygurl says:

    The Negro Mother is a very emotional and heart reaching poem. I really enjoyed performing it 4 my class.

  5. big t says:

    i think this poem and shows the stuff that happens to a black mother.

  6. ashley says:

    this is a very intresting poem and i hope i will success to be a great poet in my future years

  7. zainab says:

    I am an african living in the arabian gulf…I dont really relate to the contents of this poem much,but I see a common problem.I read this poem and all i could think of was”what about the Arabs being driven out of their own land???who thinks about them??”
    anyway this poem is my favourite ever because i really understand it..i see it..i feel it.

  8. African Babe says:

    I am not a big fan of poetry but i definately love this poem.I was really touched by this poem because it talks about how the black race was treated and is still treated today. Despite the fact that the black race was treated that way they still periviered and became free men.

  9. charmaine says:

    this poem was the best I read out of all his the other one, and my friends did his poem at our Black History Program!I gave this poem to sister and told her to read it and when she did she said that was a nice poem and she had wan’t me to get some more of his poems!!

  10. cahrmaine says:

    this poem was the best I read out of all his the other one, and my friends did his poem at our Black History Program!I gave this poem to sister and told her to read it and when she did she said that was a nice poem and she had wan’t me to get some more of his poems!!

  11. johnnetta says:

    black people still go throw the same thing every day and all i have to say this poem touch me emoiontly and spritually just keep troting on black people.

  12. janee says:

    Hi I am 17 years of age in high school and this poem is a really good poem and it inspres me to go further. It makes me want to reach my goal. And fufill my dream of getting an education. And to have an education because my people faught for us to go to school…

  13. Ciara Climer says:

    MAN after reading a poem like that i just stare at my skin wondering if people look at me for me or my skin .
    After reading this peom I have had the willingness to
    do better in school.Rembering that my people died
    for an education,And yet im here not taking advantage of the fact that im able to have one.

    THANK YOU AND REST IN PEACE Langston Hughes

  14. Victorious says:

    this work of art gives people a strong sense of reality of what black people went through everyday. its a beautiful anthem that you have to read with strength and passion. langston hughes is such an encouragement to me and my poetry. i look up to him b/c he talked about wats real. his poetry is the never ending waterfall of truth that flows through my spirit and nourishes my dtermination to press on.

  15. Eunice Ellison says:

    I was moved to tears as I read this poem. It is because of my mother and thousands of other black mothers that I am the mother and the woman that I am today. I am grateful that Mr. Hughes lived and left a legacy for all of us to enjoy, to learn and to reflect.

  16. Truth says:

    I’ve been offically writing poems since 2002, it’s been a short but lively venture into my own my mind and self. I had always love poetry as a listener but never as a writer myself. I stated when pain and frustration was brought upon me and i was in my wrost corner of my life. I never read an poetry through the years of my writing because i thought that it might hinder my poetic process of writing. This was the poem that I have read that wasn’t mine in years. It really opened a big window in my mind and it lead me to takeing my poetry to the next level. Thank you Langston Hughes
    From: Truth AKA: Truepoetry

  17. Angela says:

    I recited this poem last year for our black history program at church. This poem has always made me feel like I can do anything.

  18. Brittany Wilson says:

    This poem is an excellent poem for any black person who understands that every day of the black races lives, we are continiously being put down by the white race. This poem is one of the best poems that I have ever read for an african american. It helped me to understand some of the horrible things that slaves have went through but how we never gave up, and how we still pushed on through all of the troubles in our lives. This poem is something that every black person should be able to relate to and if not can soon help them relate to or understand the troubles of our race. This poem is EXCELLENT. I really enjoyed it.

  19. TARSHA says:

    I was looking for a poem to perform for our upcoming black history program at church and came across this one. IT IS GREAT! I look forward to the challange of being able to bring it to life, give it meaning, because it wasn’t me! But because of that Negro Mother I am me!

  20. Brooke says:

    I’m in the eighth grade. I live in a society where people dont want me to learn about my heritage and where there is a constant struggle of violence, hatrid, and racism. This poem makes me feel more attached to my people and I love that. I am related to this poet and there is a sense of pride i feel when I read his words. It inspires me to help my people out of present day bondage and that is powerful.

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