I, Too, Am America

 
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I, Too, Am America

Langston Hughes' poem is brought to life in the setting of the trains that connected America over the past century manned by the brigade of Pullman Porters.  These quiet, relentless heroes stood strong day after day, trip after trip, receding into the woodwork when society pushed them there but never losing their vibrancy, their integrity, their wisdom and their courage.

As the poem opens Bryan Collier's vision shades the page with the veil of the American flag.  The train leaves the station and the Pullman porters begin their journeys.  Their dignity defines the atmosphere for the passengers.  The train moves through the countryside while the porters are shunned at the table and treated as second class citizens.  But those external expectations do not change the identity for the porters.  

White papers stream from the train as it speeds along.  The papers have been gathered from the books, newspapers, music left behind by forgetful travelers and now find themselves gathered up by the eager hands and inquiring minds of black people who search the train's wake for knowledge, news and pieces of the culture they sense is out there but cannot afford to buy for themselves.

How does the poem end?  Where is that American flag that was so pale at the start?   Ages 7-10  978-1442420083

Recommended by:  Barb

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