I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Langston Hughes's poem I, Too, Sing America

65 Comments

  1. MWAMBANDE FRANCIS says:

    Thepoem is so good indeed and understandable easly language is simple and complex

  2. Nsolelo leonard says:

    like all hughes poem this too talk about right of black people in America.In the first line of first stanza hughes start by i too,sing America to show that despite of his black color he sang the nation anthem which bind all american.

  3. mapunda timoth says:

    the poem I,Too by langston hughes is about equal right in america between blacks and whites if you concentrates the meaning of the text itself (objective critics)

  4. AMONISYE MLELWA says:

    Basically this poem was written at aright time since the American Blacks were critically humiliated, mistreated,tortured and abandoned by the white`s government under Jim Crows Law.The poet Langston Hughes addresses the issue of freedom to be an instant possession, that means you cannot say somebody to wait for his or her right while he or she is getting terrible pains. e.g in stanza three verse two “let things take their course“is the result of the disturbances and harsh actions done by white`s government towards the Blacks to the extent that some of the Blacks have lost their hope things to be equal rights manner. AMONISYE MLELWA from TANZANIA

  5. Jael Martinez says:

    This poem stands out. In it I see the progression of blacks-from isolation, to the small upgrades, and then finally freedom, and being treated like a normal person.

  6. keyaundra rusell says:

    I LOVE THE POEM I TOO IT GIVES YOU A CLEAR UNDRESTANDING OF WAT BLACKS HAD TO GO THROUGH DURING DAT TIME LIKE FORREAL MANE….

  7. Marwa says:

    I, Too” by Langston Hughes
    The poem “I, Too” by Langston Hughes is an excellent example of a poem using the word “I” as something other than its literal meaning. “I, Too” is about the segregation of African Americans, whites and how soon segregation will come to an end.
    The first line of “I, Too” uses the word “I” right away. The line states “I, too, sing America”. This meter in particular is as important as the entirety of the poem. It means not only whites are Americans, but African Americans are citizens and should be treated equally. In the following stanza, the word “I” is used several times. The first line of the second stanza states “I am the darker brother” — meaning he may be African American, but he is still an American. The following five meters state “They send me to eat in the kitchen. When company comes, but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong”. The use of “I” here is showing that African Americans do not worry about what is being done, but how they are growing stronger as segregation continues, knowing soon they will be equal.
    The third stanza shows what the future will be like, or as Hughes uses the metaphorical “tomorrow.” The stanza reads “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes. Nobody’ll dare say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,” Then”. The use of “I” helps showing the African American community will soon rise and be one with the rest of America.
    The fourth stanza concludes in a way which states African Americans are not inherently bad, but inherently good. The stanza reads “Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed – I, too, am America”. Here Hughes says that once African American’s are recognized as equal, everyone will see they are not bad and that they are beautiful as well as part of America.
    Langston Hughes is a talented poet who uses metaphors and his own style of writing to increase the effectiveness of his overall message. His usage of “I” helps reiterate that he too is an American and will not be let down by society nor will other African Americans. “I, Too” depicts the view of African Americans in the past and their strength to move forward.

    Democracy, by Langston Hughes

    It is no surprise that democracy in the United States was nonexistent in the early 1900s and throughout the Jim Crow era, for blacks had no rights. Democracy back then was laughable and a joke – and outright biased. Government rule by the people pertained to whites exclusively, excluding all African Americans.
    Therefore, Langston Hughes felt compelled to speak his mind for equality and his birthright freedom via poetry. He clearly addresses his points of view about democracy in the first stanza of “Democracy” (1949).
    He declares the following: “Democracy will not come / Today, this year / Nor ever / Through compromise and fear.” He believes his rights should parallel those of white people, without compromising his dignity in any way. He declares he is an American and should have the rights to stand on his two feet and own his land, supported by lines 7 through 9.
    He doesn’t want to wait for freedom; he wants to fight for freedom and make a change. Moreover, he is not too fond of passive individuals who say the following, “Let things take their course / Tomorrow is another day,” because that kind of attitude signifies submission.
    He indicates that everybody should have the right to exercise their freedom because that’s a birthright, for whites, blacks, and whomever. The final three lines – “I live here, too / I want freedom / Just as you” – need no interpretation, because the clarity of what he wants is obvious.
    Democracy implies free and equal representation of people; in more concrete language, it implies free and equal right of every single soul to participate in a system of government, which was nonexistent to blacks at the juncture, due to the Jim Crow laws.
    The poem “Democracy” by Langston Hughes is one of many great poems (poetic protest) conceived throughout his illustrious poetic life. Written in 1949, he obviously wanted change and equality in the present when he was alive, and not in the future, for a dead man has no right to freedom. Appropriately, he had a pessimistic view of democracy because blacks were treated badly and suffered greatly.
    Can anyone blame a man for having such a negative view on democracy while living in a racist society? Absolutely not! Thousands of Black Americans had the same feeling.
    In reality, democracy was profoundly one-sided, for blacks were not allowed to be involved with any decision making, etc. Freedom and equality summarize the entire poem, for that is what Hughes wanted at the time – basic entitlement for one and for all.

  8. IGNACE KABONGO says:

    Almost 20 years after I graduated, I still remember this power inspiring poem by Langston Hughes. It reminds me how we and our professor were discussing this short poem during our literature sessions by telling one another this:’before God there is no colour or race’

  9. Elaine says:

    The poem I, Too, written by Langston Hughes, uses excellent language, vivid imagery and strong sounds to express the poet’s feelings towards racism. I, Too is an anti-discrimination poem, which shows the injustice of racism. The poem is very effective because of its genuine emotions and also because it makes us to rflect on an issue that issue very common nowadays.

  10. Elaine says:

    The poem I, Too, written by Langston Hughes, uses excellent language, vivid imagery and strong sounds to express the poet’s feelings towards racism. I, Too is an anti-discrimination poem, which shows the injustice of racism. In addition, the poem make us to reflect on an issue that is very commom nowadays.

  11. roberta says:

    it is fantastic…..very very…beatiful!!!!!

  12. Bammi says:

    I liked this poem alot. Im in my 3rd year of high school and so far this poem has made it awesome. I like it alot. People of his nationality are most likely grateful that Langston Hughes wrote this poem. This makes me happy and to anyone who reads this, I hope you feel the same. I like it alot and me being one of the darker teenagers at my school (Native American) I feel that everyone has a right to be free.

  13. m says:

    I read the poem I,Too infront of my hole school and did a great job for Black History Month

  14. Shaarmake says:

    it was ight

  15. Andrew says:

    Best Poem ever lied my eyes on its refreshing and uplifts our lives as people of colour.Andrew,Zambia

  16. jayjay says:

    the poem has a deeper meaning than what it seems. I really liked it and had to do a presentation about it.

  17. Kevin Harrison says:

    Liked it alot foreal

  18. nancy_nguyen83 says:

    I seemed to fall into asleep just because of learning boring poems and then suddenly feel excied when i heard my teacher to explain “i,too”.How beautiful the poem is!

  19. Riley says:

    This is definately one of my all time favorite Langston Hughes. The statment he is making on a person’s desire and right to be treated equally inspires me every time I read the poem.

  20. Robby says:

    i think that this poem definently show how langson was tired and wanted everyone to rise up and be treated like a regular person

  21. Kinsey B. says:

    I love Edgar Allen Poe!

  22. Mariolina says:

    We had to study it at low middle school in Italy. We fell in love with it from line 1. My sister and I still quote it often to the children in our family. And, adapted, it has become our feminist statement.
    I believe it is the most beautiful poem ever written.

  23. Florina says:

    I think that Langhston Hughes is a very good writer. He is not ashamed to say that his black skin is beutiful!!!

    Learn how to spell “beautiful”.

  24. David says:

    As others have pointed out, this poem works on so many different levels. The fact that Hughes himself was an African American, and the line “I am the darker brother,” certainly suggests that it is about being an African American — but it could also be about being a Latino, a homosexual or even a Goth (think about how Goths were demonized after the Columbine incident)! It’s really about exclusion in a country that claims to be “e pluribus unum” — “one out of many.”

  25. Taylor says:

    This is part of my research paper on uplifting poets of the Harlem Renaissance:
    This theme of beauty is also exemplified in Langston Hughes’ poem “I, Too.” Hoping for a future of racial equality, Hughes proclaims “Tomorrow […] /they’ll see how beautiful I am/ […] I too, am American.” The sestet, lines two through seven, he begins with “I am the darker brother.” The word “brother” signifies one half of an equal partnership; the other is the white man or lighter brother. This relation immediately establishes Hughes’ quest for equality, and white society’s ignorance to the equivalence. By identifying the beauty of his African American culture, Hughes creates reason for white acceptance and asks for racial impartiality.

  26. Todd says:

    I WAS LIKE WOW THIS IS LIKE THE BEST POEM LIKE EVERR!!.

  27. Howie Hawk says:

    this poem reflects a general attitude for change. langston hughes effectively foreshadows the civil rights movement.

  28. Lisa Standlee says:

    I can relate to the poem because I lived with my aunt for 7 years and was severely mistreated. I wasn’t considered part of the family, but rather, a slave.

  29. E Roberts says:

    my 7th grade teach, a white lady, made our memorized this poem. I’s almost 30 years later i still remember this poem and love it. i am from the United States Virgin Island

  30. Demnd Dunham says:

    this poem is very interesting because i understand what the character mean when he is tired of not being seen when company is there. I would want people to see my beautiful face and nice skin even though its a different color. this poem is very touching so i hope a lot of people read this i recomend

  31. jason says:

    this poem is truly meaningfull and with lots of thoughts i really like it.

  32. Bob says:

    i love this poem…it speaks to my heart….i start my day everyday by reading this poem..

  33. traci says:

    this poem speaks loud and clear my children have preformed this in black history programs and will contine to do so.

  34. Dominique says:

    hey Langston Hughes u write good poems and books this poem is a good poet

  35. Jazmine says:

    this poem is wonderful and I think it speaks for it self..we all are EQUAL no matter what..it;s not just the white man who is AMERICAN Im american you American and we all are …I Too am American.

  36. Tim says:

    I like this poem alot because it says that african-american people are equal no matter what other people think of us

  37. Paola & Andrew says:

    i sing america too.

  38. Nena says:

    Although i’m not african american, I’m hispanic i think he did it because he wanted equality for everyone. and he was trying to say everyone is equal and we have the same rights

  39. Julyanaha says:

    For the first time african americans are coming out and saying we are proud of who we are. And you may look down at us today but tomorrow we may be equal and you won’t be ashamed of me.

  40. kim says:

    The poem can be compared to Claude McKays “America”. In it Claude speaks of his love/hate relationship with America. However , Claude does not cower to the kitchen and wait for a day to be accepted. He confronts her head on. ” Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tigers tooth, stealing my breath of life, I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth…” Claude seems to become energized in his quest for racial equality in a racist america. He too sings america. Check out “If we must die” by McKay

  41. Ryan D. says:

    I think that the last line- “I, too, am America” is a reference to America’s struggle with the Bristish empire in the mid 1700’s. Langston is relating his struggles with the history of the country, when America was told to “be quiet” by the world.

  42. bryan says:

    Why has no one mentioned the obvious connection to Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing?” Hughes was responding to Whitman’s poem, as well as concurrently creating a poem entirely different. “I, too,” shows empathy.

  43. Just lil ol me says:

    I,Too . . relates to the aspect of the period of the Harlem Renaissance. This movement of African American artists and writers would aid efforts for civil rights. When Langston Hughes wrote I,Too he transformed African American Identy and history. Before the Harlem Renaissance few whites knew how African Americans felt. I, too , sing American really opened up peoples eyes. People could see for the first time in writing that African Americans were smart intellectuals.

  44. Me says:

    This is trully an amazing poem that says so much by stating so little. I admire people who tell it like it is and arent afraid to show the true colors of America.

  45. Katrina says:

    As I watched the devastating effects of Hurricaine Katrina and listened to the “finger pointing” statements of the United States leadership , my thoughts focused on this poem: ” I, Too, Sing America” regardless of socio economic status , “I, Too, Sing America” , regardless of my political orientation, “I Too, Sing America”; although our financial contributions are minor compared to the needs of the citizens of New Orleans, Alabama and Mississippi, “We Too, Sing America”.

  46. Michael Alexander says:

    I too, support america’s beauty,and success, although i am of a different background. The politician want allow me to be apart of the decision makings of america. I am told to learn about what’s going on through the tv, newspaper, or radio, so i smiled and acquired understanding, and knowledge, but one day, i will be at the polls when mainstream america votes. Nobody can stop me from voting for a person of my choice, furthermore, they will witness my beauty, and success, and be embarassed about the way they treated me, because i am your brother.

    The Interpretation of I , Too, AM AMERICA

  47. ILL Gatez says:

    you will find the symbolism your looking for [pertaining to table], by recalling Americas policy of blacks not being allowed to eat with white people, a policy that was also adopted by the white house].

  48. Johnny says:

    “I, Too”; the basis of the idea is alienation and loneliness through discrimination – the narrator eats in the kitchen. This is a simple construction of intolerance and bigotry, but as the poem ends, you’ll notice that the symbolism of revolution, be it metaphorical or reality based, empowers the isolated man to move, from which point the isolated becomes the isolator. The entire poem is a symbol of bigotry as a symbol of the flip-flopping of social power structures.

  49. Eyoal says:

    This is a very insightful and colorful poem that is clear and understandable and has a very deep meaning. I am doing a project on the poem and i feel like i ate some spicy food when i read it. it is edible! great poem

  50. sarah says:

    I am doing a project on this poem and I found it easy to understand, but hard to pick apart.

  51. Karen Clark says:

    I love Langston Hughes’ work. I, too, sing America is one of my favorite poems. I love the way he deals with how black americans are treated. I feel that it should be a requirement in all English Classes. There are many comparisons that can be made with how blacks are treated in 2005!

  52. elizabethe says:

    i have to teach Langston Hughes to my class and i have to be able to break the poem down and explain the true and metaphor meaning of the poem. can someone please give me the true back round of the poem or can they please give me a site i can go to to get it.

  53. BOB says:

    It was very hard for me to relate this peom to myself for an assignment but i still know what it means.

  54. Johntahn says:

    What a poem i love the feeling of it. It teaches you alot and I will love intreprteing in in class. Thanks for the pride and hope hughes

  55. Jonathan says:

    Langston Hughes poems are just splendid! Reading his poems make me feel like a whole different person they make me want to cry.

  56. Amy says:

    I like this Lansgston because he is not afraid to show and speak about true colors.

  57. Kyle says:

    This poem has so many metaphors and symbols in such a small quantity. I love breaking this down, but i am still confused. Is the “table” a symbol of the projected views of americans during the 1920’s or is it the view of African Americans during the Harlem R…???

  58. Sergio says:

    Langhston is Gangsta

  59. Sergio says:

    I think that Langhston Hughes is a very good writer. He is not ashamed to say that his black skin is beutiful!!!

  60. elvis ogie says:

    i feel it is a poem that tells the sufferings,humilation and hardship that the black skinned experienced

  61. kganetso khunou says:

    This is one of the greatest poems i have studied so far.It gives reference to the Blacks living in America.I Too sing America and other poems by Langston Hughes gave me much understanding about how the blacks were treated in America.

  62. Katie says:

    I think this poem is very good…it gives the reader an insight into the savage aspect of the American Dream, where equality, etc. is supposed to be on eof the main beliefs. However, the white family (I presume) send their black slave to the kitchen as they believe that Afro-American(?) is not pure American. This goes against their claims therefore and also against the religion of Christianity, which many Americans follow. Also, “They’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed” suggests to me that yes, the family will be ashamed as deep down they know it is contradictory to act in this way…however, it also suggests to me that the poet is perhaps also American as far as personality is concerned as he too in concerned with skin-deep beauty: something Westerners are renowned for.
    Overall, a great poem.

  63. Josh Bunt says:

    this is a great poem

  64. Brittany says:

    i like this poem very much because even back then when people wrote in confusing ways, i can completley understand and enjoy this particular poem written by Langston hughes. He is an excellent writer.

  65. rachel says:

    well i am only 14 but i believe that this poem is beautiful.One of my favorite parts is when Hughes says “Besides, they’ll see how beautiful i am and be ashamed”.he is one of my all time favorite writers and i for one think all his work is good!

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