Is the American dream available to everyone? Langston Hughes asks this and many other poignant questions in “Let America Be America Again,” a passionate and provocative poem he wrote in 1938. More than 80 years later, many of these questions remain unanswered.

“Let America Be America Again” expresses earnest hope and great pain. How can we grow and progress in making America’s promises available to all?

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

Please join us to discuss, with open hearts and best intentions, this important piece by one of America’s greatest writers. We welcome you in our endeavor to facilitate an important and constructive exchange among fellow educators.

You can access the poem here. Please read it at least twice before the discussion!

Shared Inquiry Discussion

Langston Hughes’s “Let America Be America Again”

Choose from these two dates and times:

  • Wednesday, July 21, 4:00–5:00 p.m. central time • Register
  • Wednesday, July 28, 3:00–4:00 p.m. central time • Register

Possible questions for the discussion:

  1. Whom is the speaker addressing? What is the speaker’s purpose in making this address?
  2. If America has not been America to the people listed in the poem, then has it been America to anyone?
  3. According to the speaker, who is responsible for building America?
  4. Why does the speaker say, “We must take back our land again”? From whom should it be taken? Why?
  5. What will be necessary, according to the speaker, to “redeem / The land”?

Are you interested in bringing the Shared Inquiry method to your K–12 classroom? Please contact a Great Books educational consultant. We are happy to talk anytime!