Activism through Poetry

“They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
I, too, am America.”
-Langston Hughes

I gave my students a task to analyze and deconstruct one of Langston Hughes’ most renowned poems this week. They. Mastered. It.


Not only did they work within their groups, but they were also constantly remarking on the closeness of the poem, written in the 1960s, to more contemporary works. One of the fifth grade participants connected Langston Hughes to Childish Gambino and his song titled “This is America.” Others were choosing specific words or phrases in the poem that were significant to the poem as a whole. Giving these participants the space to think on their own and the feeling of having a pen in their hand and the authority to speak for themselves is remarkable. As the supposed adult in the room, I found myself guiding the conversations less and less. I spoke with the other specialists in the room and said, “I don’t even have these conversations in some of my college courses.”

The participants enjoyed having the space to think critically of a poem that is relevant today and the opportunity to talk about the impact of words on society and on the self.


By Anani Galindo

Anani is a rising senior at Wellesley College, majoring in English and Spanish. During her junior year, she worked with the Wellesley College’s Civic Engagement office where she was first introduced to the St. Stephen’s program and is now interning here as a member of the Academic Team. She is originally from Los Angeles, CA and moved to MA for college. She loves to travel (will be going to Santiago, Chile in the fall!), go for runs, and loves to cook!