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. Paul says:

    These poems speak to me; I must have been African in another life because I am moved by LH’s words like no-others…

  2. stephanie says:

    this poem was read at my great-grandmother’s funeral, she lived 2 be 97 years old…she is THE NEGRO MOTHER. i love this poem

  3. Ray G says:

    this is a good poem because it really reaches out an touches many diffrent African Americans because of the lifestyle that put up with back in his time they had to put up with discrimanation racism hatred and other complacations.

  4. Vivian Filer says:

    I have been doing this poem for many years as a part of my storytelling repertoire. It says so much that all of my audiences embrace it.

  5. cora says:

    thanks for that lovely poem

  6. Ankit Tejpal says:

    This poem holds the strength to transform perspectives and yet provide a song of hope. It is a commendable piece of literature.

  7. Twinkie says:

    Look yall i wuz feelin this poem and I really enjoyed it alot most of langston Hughes poems are hot and I will continue reading them. I really enjoyed The Negro Mother

  8. Alyssa says:

    I am not a negro but that was a really great poem that probably touched a lot of peoples heart. . . whit and black.

  9. Dayo Siyanbade says:

    My instuctor gave me an assignment about “The Negro Mother” This poem is one of the best poem ever. It is very deep. This poem reminds me of what my mother use to tell me when I was little.

  10. Jameson Keenan says:

    William Styron, whose Holocaust novel Sophie’s Choice became a film and an opera, has died, aged 81…

  11. 赵一泠 says:

    i am touched by this poem,really.touched by the great mother love.i think all the human beings should remember the history of Negro, and together hold a better tomorrow

  12. 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!”

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. babygurl says:

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

  16. big t says:

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

  17. ashley says:

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!!

  21. 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!!

  22. 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.

  23. 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…

  24. 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

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. brown_suga says:

    i luv this poem dont get me wrong im only 11 but wen i get older im gonna b a writer my mama got the collected poems of langston huhges book and ive read every single last poem in the book in my 6th grade class im the only kid who knos about him xcept for my friend (and i told her bout him) but i really luv dat peom it kinda reminds me of my moms cuz no matter how much pain she get raisin for kids workin and payin rent or gettin hurt she neva gives up i luv my moms more than words kan express no words kan describe her just like in the poem

  33. Mike Jones says:

    MAN I LOVE THIS POEM…POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!

  34. Mary de Treville says:

    Didn’t Lanston Hughes also write: From Mother to Son or Climb the Staircase? I am anxious to find this for a friend’s memorial service.

  35. Alice S. says:

    We Must Never Forget What We Must Pass On To Our Children, Hope, Truth, Our Survival. And Yet We Will Be…

  36. IMANI says:

    THE NEGRO MOTHER HAS BEEN A TORCH OF LIGHT,STRENGTH,AND SPIRIT TO MY LIFE, I HAVE AN ORIGINAL COPY,WHEN I COMPARED THE TWO,THE COPY ON LINE HAVE MISSPELLED WORDS PLEASE PROOF READ.
    THANK YOU IMANI AYOBUNMI

  37. Niambi says:

    My mother taught me this poem when I was in the third grade and I have always kept it close to my heart. It is timeless and global. Sure, she is the Negro mother, but she speaks to the Latino child, the Asian Child, the Native American child, the Jewish child and any human spirit who struggles and have the faith in God to not give up, but keep on keepin’ on. Her spirit beckons us to lift up our voices and speak out against disparities regarding race, age, religion, culture, sex and so on. She empowers each of us to recognize our role as leaders, role models and visonaries. WE are the Negro mother–in Pakistan, Cuba, Nigeria, Canada, America or wherever you reside in this vast world. She lives in you and she lives in me! May God bless and keep you.-Niambi

  38. luvia says:

    this poem is goood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. angela says:

    this poem is just beautiful. i love it!sometimes we forget how blessed we are and a pooem like this just reminds us.thank you langston hughes for writting this.

  40. Dacia says:

    I can recall being a part of showcase for the arts when I was in the eighth grade. I recited this poem, from memory, dressed the part with my wool two piece suit, my coffee stocking, my round toe dress shoes and my brim hat. This poem is the most inspirational writings of all times. I am now in my thirties and I still recite this poem because of the strength of the negro mother, my battles seem simplistic. I encourage everyone who reads this poem to share it with a friend. Remember that perserverance achieves success.

  41. TracyGreen says:

    This peom is amazing. Growing in these times where things are so much easier for black people, You never forget but it passes you and when you read a peom like this it reminds you of the hard work black people went through to give us what we have today. It really makes you think.

  42. Camille says:

    This poem always seems to move me each and every time I read it. The words are so fierce and so true, that it digs into your soul and picks at your spirit, making you laugh, cry, and think at the same time. Everyone can relate to a poem like this. I love his work!!!!~OKC

  43. micaela says:

    this is yet so touching even to me even thuogh i am only 12 but i understand this and if i were able to do sumin a out it i would vote u number 1!! well igotta go and thanks for qriteing such a pretty and understanding poem!! bye

  44. saima khan says:

    oh my goodness…when i read this poem my spine was tingling and i had a sense of freedom of the mind after i read this vividly beautiful poem.

  45. chessika lowery says:

    I realy loved the poem im only 15 and im real expired by your work i love it i shared a couple of tears and they 2 were happy tears and if would have lived back then i would not thought i would be as strong as u

  46. antonio elosua says:

    this poem is just so inpiring and lets you know how much those black men and women suffered those years. Even tough they had many problems they continued sweating working too much i love this poem.

  47. Chas says:

    this was one of the first poems i learned and memorized at the early age of maybe 10 yrs. old. this was when i realized how beautiful poetry is. The Negro Mother is my favorite poem!

  48. tamika says:

    this was the first poem i ever learned in school. i was in the 9th ra when I did this poem that was 15 years ago and I can still remember every word from this poem. It’s funny cause I am a very dark woman and when I said “look at my face dark as the night” all my friends began to laugh but…..when i completed that poem I recived a stand O. It made me feel soo good about myself.. I know this is a powerful poem cause my family still remembeer bits and peices from it. I plan on doin it at my family reunion this summer.

  49. Doris says:

    THAT POEM REALLY TOUCHED MY HEART. IT SHOWED THE PAIN THAT MANY BLACK POEPLE HAD TO SUFFER, YET NEVER GAVE UP. I AM REALLY INSPIRED BY THE POEM BECAUSE IT MAKES ME WANT TO CONTINUE THIS JOURNEY THAT I HAVE BEGUN, AND MAKE MY ANCESTORS PROUD BY LETTING THEM KNOW THAT THEIR SUFFERING DID NOT GO UNNOTICED. SOMETHING AS DEEP AS THE NEGRO MOTHER CAN NEVER BE CONSIDERED SHALLOW!

  50. Keyanna Jackson says:

    I love this poem, it shows how the young black woman respect thier selves it represent the black mother.

  51. JOHANNES says:

    I LIKE THE POEM BECAUSE IT DEPICTS THE WORTHNESS OF BLACK MOTHERS.IT REVALUES TGHE BEING OF BLACK LADIES ALLOVER THE WORLD.I THINK I WILL HAVE TO INTRODUCE THE POEM TO MY MOTHER.

  52. sallie smith says:

    This is one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read and the most beautiful i ever recited. i recited it at my church during our womans day program, but then I couldn’t find it anymore until now. I just LOVE this poem an now that I HAVE FOUND IT, believe me it will not get misplaced again.On my wall it goes until my grandchildren are old enough to understand.

  53. sara says:

    i like this poem .i take it in poem course in king saud universty .and i enjoy reading this poem. it carry great feeling of black people

  54. Jessica says:

    I’m a Mexican, but grew up loving and looking up to black people. Langston is one of the African-Americans I respect the most. In his poems, he just speaks and writes with his heart. That is what makes his poems touch the strings of your heart.

  55. Quanesha says:

    This poems holds true the strength of the black women. The sacrafices she will endure to give to her children what they desreve it is and should be a guideline for young women to say to them that the struggle may be long put the outcome is worth the wait if you do your best with your children that although some of your dreams may have been delayed you can find pleasure in watching your children make theirs come true

  56. ariel says:

    this poem is real deep. I feel like he wrote that just for me. it shows how black woman suffered to get were they are at today. i still feel that we are not getting all the respect that we should.but we will get sooner or later.
    God bless you Langston Hughes

  57. Shantel Thompson says:

    This poem was one that really touched me. Being African American it is a struggle and Mr. Hughes’ poem shows this. We should honor his work and keep trying for a better tomorrow

  58. chaquita says:

    THIS WAS A GREAT POEM ALL TOGETHR IT WAS JUST TOUCHING 2 ME BEING BLACK AND YOUNG ,IT JUST TOUCHED MY HEART THIS IS THE REASON WHY I AM FOLLOWING MY DREAM 2 B COME A POET THATS ALL I CAN SAY IT WAS JUST BEAUTIFUL

  59. cholaka says:

    that brought tears of joys to my eyes. I,being the black woman i am, loved that poem.. I am now old, and i too had to suffer of that long ago many many moons ago. I feel that no one should have to go through that great depression again. Everyone should live life betterd.. not through the wiplashes and the beatings I got from my POOR white farmer owners… ..danmn white folk suck.

    peace out nigga’

    Cholaka

  60. cheryl groves says:

    This poem represents truth in what African-Americans had to suffer through and endure. This poem promotes the strength of endurance and dreams coming to life. I am Caucasian and lived through desegration as a child. We were poor and lived in a predominitely black neiborhood. The children in the neighborhood were bussed to all white schools. I can remember getting on the bus and police had to guard our bus because the “white people” wanted a race war. It was terrifying. I can remember the feeling of relief of leaving on the bus and getting away from the hatred and violence that threatened the African children everyday. It is very heart wrenching to see a African student to be threatened and put down, not because of anything that he did but simply because of the color of his skin. To see the struggle in his eyes and the plea for peace and acceptance leaves you with a feeing of emptiness and pain. About halfway through the school year, there wasn’t a division of color anymore. The African children could walk through the halls in freedom and acceptance. There was peace after the storm and a breath of a new day.

  61. Jasmine says:

    ThisPoem had tears in my eyes this a veary beautyful poem .I am reading this poem for black history mounth

  62. Shondra Causey says:

    THIS IS WHAT I NEED. I AM THE MISTRESS OF CEREMONY AT CHURCH.. I CAN MAKE THIS COME ALIVE AGAIN. THE YOUNGER SET IS WHAT I POCUS ON. I AM GOING TO E-MAIL YOU ALL BACK TO TELL YOU MORE.

  63. Corene says:

    I frist saw this peom on the back of a Church bulletin
    in 1970, I have held on to it every since. Every time I
    read it,its as if it the frist time. If only children of today know what a proud people we are.

  64. Brenda C. says:

    My first time reading this poem it was every special to me because Langston went to the same school as my parents did,I think everyone should read this poem and know that the struggle still go,s on. I plan on reading it and dressing has a elderly women as a young lady praise dance at a homeless shelter, I would like to thank my ancesters who paved the way so that I might be free!

  65. DD says:

    I love this poem so much. When my daughter, whose now 24, was in the 6th grade, she and I learned this poem, she needed to recite it in a contest. Since then I try to get her to but she declines. So, I have taken to reciting it at my church, I dress as a elderly mother with hat gloves, cane, glassed and all. I become all that the poem is. Scary, (smile) my daughters think so. The crowd always seem to enjoy it.

  66. cordella smith says:

    I’ve repeated this poem durng many black history programs. I like the poem because it helps me to remember how my mother, Reba Shegog struggled to raise 6 children as a single parent. It futher helps me realize that my struggles are small compared to the mother in this poem. What’s even more shocking is that this negro mother is “real” and her struggles are “real”.

  67. Judy C. Johnson says:

    I feel the poem is simply awesome and powerful. It truly explains the trials from whence our forefathers and mothers came. I will be forever grateful for those that blazed the way for our freedom and equality.

  68. Ashley says:

    I really like this poem it tells a true story about the Depression time.

  69. Yoshua says:

    This poem is so incredible! It it so provocative and breathtaking, at the same time. Langston Hughes was an incredible poet that managed to bring pride and dignity to Black people during a time where they must have felt anything but. This poem is a must-read for every African-American!

  70. Worthy says:

    I love this poem , i will share this poem with tme members of my church. I love tihs poem…. Thank god for a person like you, I thank God for giving a person like you the mind of wisdom to be so created to think of these words that I feel truly express what a black woman feel while and when she work so hard…. Thank You

  71. Camesha says:

    I love this poem because it explains how the blacks struggle wit life for 300 -500 years. Black women were determined not to let the whites keep her and her kids down.

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