Charlottesville:  “What happens to a dream deferred” wrote Langston Hughes in the poem Harlem.  Hughes was referring to the frustrations of African-American life 90 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  Does the deferred Dream explode, the poet asked. What happens, ironically when the deferred dream is that of white supremacy and the Confederacy risen? Does it also explode? Charlottesville is the latest detonation in a process that has been left unaddressed for decades, for more than a century and a half really.  Arguably since the founding of the United States. This piece from the FRDH archive is from 1995 is based on an evening I spent with the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Natchez Mississippi which nearly ended in a fistfight over the meaning of the Constitution.

Hughes poem in full:

“What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
      Or does it explode?”

 


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