Pithy and powerful, poetry is a popular art form at protests and rallies—from the civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter. The poems of protest, resistance, and empowerment on the Poetry Foundation’s website call out and talk back to the inhumane forces that threaten from above. They expose grim truths, raise consciousness, and build united fronts. Some insist, as Langston Hughes writes, “That all these walls oppression builds / Will have to go!” Others seek ways to actively “make peace,” as Denise Levertov implores, suggesting that “each act of living” might cultivate collective resistance. All rail against complacency and demonstrate why poetry is necessary and sought after in moments of political crisis.
Few American artists loom larger than Langston Hughes. He wrote novels, plays, short stories, films, librettos, children’s verse, newspaper columns, translations, and memoirs, and edited several important anthologies. But most of all, he remained a poet. From “Dreams” to “Let America Be America Again,” he explored social conscience and class difference with lyric beauty and music.
As part of its work to change the narrative about race in America, the Equal Justice Institute (EJI) extensively researched the period between the Civil War and World War II, when more than 4,000 African Americans were lynched in this country. EJI published its findings in the report Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror. With support from Google, EJI has created Lynching in America, a freedigital interactive experience inspired by the original report.
Visitors to the American Writers Museum’s website will learn about the life and work of Frederick Douglass in the museum’s newest virtual exhibit, Frederick Douglass: Agitator. They will see how Douglass’s words remain far too relevant today and why now is as important as ever to, as Douglass said, “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”