This heartfelt Sterling A. Brown poem is all about the famous 20th-century blues artist Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, also known as the “Mother of the Blues.”
‘Incident’ by Countee Cullen describes a terrible incident from the poet’s youth that occurred when he was happily visiting Baltimore.
‘Dream Variations’ by Langston Hughes details two slightly different dreams a Black speaker has as he is confronted with the “white day.”
‘As I Grew Older’ by Langston Hughes is about breaking through the “wall” that racism constructs. The speaker, a Black man from the African American community, spends the poem discussing the light of forgotten dreams he’s newly determined to attain.
‘To a Dark Girl’ by Gwendolyn Bennett is a moving and inspiring poem that seeks to uplift Black girls and women and remind them of their beauty and strength.
‘Sadie and Maud’ by Gwendolyn Brooks is a poem about finding happiness, dealing with sexism, and society’s expectations. It features the stories of two sisters-Maud and Sadie who take different paths in life.
‘To John Keats, Poet, at Spring Time’ by Countee Cullen is a poem about spring and poetry. It is addressed to John Keats and spends its lines praising spring and the deceased poet’s influence.
‘Dream Boogie’ by Langston Hughes is a poem about jazz, creativity, and the oppression of Black Americans. It was written during the Harlem Renaissance.
‘Reapers’ by Jean Toomer is a thoughtful poem about oppression. It is depicted through a very poetic and memorable metaphor depicting field workers and a mower.
‘The Tropics in New York’ by Claude McKay is a thoughtful poem about homesickness. It takes place in New York and includes a speaker’s longing for the elements of his home.
‘Cross’ by Langston Hughes uses a stereotypical image of a biracial man to explore identity and the inequalites one might encounter.
‘The Spanish Needle’ by Claude McKay is thoughtful and image-filled. The poet looks back on his speaker’s past and directs his words to a plant.
‘a song in the front yard’ by Gwendolyn Brooks is a well-known poem about a young speaker’s interest in the darker side of life.
‘I Want to Die While You Love Me’ by Georgia Douglas Johnson is a moving love poem. In it, the speaker addresses her desire to die before a love affair ends.
Music is a powerful tool to bring harmony even in the cacophonic world, filled with inequality, injustice, and racial discrimination. In ‘Daybreak in Alabama,’ Langston Hughes tries to create a harmonious world by creating music of equality and brotherhood.
‘Harlem Hopscotch’ by Maya Angelou is a thoughtful poem. It explores what it’s like to grow up Black in Harlem, New York.
‘The Harlem Dancer’ by Claude McKay is a thoughtful poem about a dancer’s inner life. It speaks on the duality of what people see and what people experience.
‘Harlem Shadows’ by Claude McKay memorably addresses the lives of Black sex workers in Harlem. The poet describes their experience while also acknowledging their strength.
‘The Ballad of the Landlord’ is a poem that explores the relationship between a Black tenant and his white landlord. The latter refuses to fulfill his duties and the former ends up in jail.
‘I Dream A World’ by Langston Hughes is a powerful, short poem that outlines the poet’s vision of a utopian world. There, no one is judged on the color of their skin and all people have access to the same freedoms.
‘Suicide’s Note’ is a three-line poem that speaks from the perspective of someone who wants to take their own life. They feel the “cool face” of the river asking them for a “kiss.”