Let America Be America Again

By Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

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.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?Not me?
Surely not me?The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

 

Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II Addresses Post-Election Anxiety and Issues a Call to Action at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. 

 

Rekindling a Prophetic Moral Vision for Justice, Social Change and Movement Building

WHAT IS REPAIRERS OF THE BREACH?

Repairers of the Breach, Inc. is a nonpartisan and ecumenical organization that seeks to build a progressive agenda rooted in a moral framework to counter the ultra-conservative constructs that try to dominate the public square. Repairers will help frame public policies which are not constrained or confined by the narrow tenets of neo-conservatism. Repairers will bring together clergy and lay people from different faith traditions, with people without a spiritual practice but who share the moral principles at the heart of the great moral teachings. Repairers will expand a “school of prophets” who can broadly spread the vision of a nation that is just and loving. 

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.    — Isaiah 58:12

Our communities are torn apart by hateful violence and words, often in the name of opportunistic and hypocritical interpretations of the world's oldest holy books and teachings.  To repair the breaches caused by centuries old systems of racial and gender inequality, we need thousands of clergy and lay leaders who will dedicate their lives to rebuilding, raising up and repairing our moral infrastructure.  They shall be called, "The Repairers of the Breach:  The Restorers of Our Communities".  

OUR MISSION

OUR GOALS

Educate church and lay leaders who will pursue policies and organizing strategies for the good of the whole. Educate the public about the deep connections between shared religious faith traditions and public policy, deeply rooted in our Constitutions and the moral values of justice, fairness, and the general welfare. Challenge the version of the ultra-conservatives who have misinterpreted Christianity and other faith traditions as a faith that hates the poor. They call 47% of us “Takers,” and they want to shut down any government agency that tries to provide for the general welfare and just economic systems.

Develop effective messengers of the social gospel in places of worship, communities and workplaces who will understand the values at the heart of an anti-racism, anti-poverty, and the anti-extreme militarism movement. Develop leaders with a clear progressive moral vision for leadership in the 21st century. Create 21st century prophetic critique and consciences. Develop local leaders/clergy who can withstand the sirens of opportunism and neo-conservatism while remaining true to a principled approach to eliminating poverty and racism. 


ABOUT THE REV. DR. WILLIAM J. BARBER

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina and architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. These weekly actions drew tens of thousands of North Carolinians and other moral witnesses to the state legislature. More than 1,050 peaceful protesters were arrested, handcuffed and jailed.

A highly sought after speaker, he has keynoted hundreds of national and state conferences, including the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He has spoken to a wide variety of audiences including national unions, fraternities and sororities, motorcycle organizations, drug dealer conferences, women’s groups, economic policy voting rights LGBTQ groups, environmental and criminal justice groups, small organizing committees of domestic workers, fast food workers, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists and others.

He has served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, since 2006 and sits on the National NAACP Board of Directors. A former Mel King Fellow at MIT, he is currently Visiting Professor of Public Theology and Activism at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary. Dr. Barber is regularly featured in media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and The Nation Magazine, among others. He is the 2015 recipient of the Puffin Award and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award. His two most recent books include Forward Together (Chalice Press) and The Third Reconstruction (Beacon Press).

 

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