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Langston Hughes’s poem Merry-Go-Round was published in 1942. During that time in the United States, many things were going on, to name a few, there was the race riot, the first published issue of the Negro Digest, the first African American to go to space, the United State Marine Corps allowing African American men for the first time (but in a segregated facility), the Congress of Racial Equality in Chicago was organized and started a sit-in at a restaurant in Chicago. is about an African American kid going to a fair in a city that he is visiting in the north. He wants to get on the merry-go-round, and he asks the man operating the ride where he needs to go to be able to ride it. Since where he is from, he is sectioned away from the white people because of Jim Crow Laws. With my response, I want to share how I feel about this poem, what I think it meant to Langston Hughes, what it meant to people then, and what it means to people now.

“Where is the Jim Crow section

On this merry-go-round,

Mister, cause I want to ride?

Down South where I come from

White and colored

Can’t sit side by side.

Down South on the train

There’s a Jim Crow car.

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On the bus we’re put in the back–

But there ain’t no back

To a merry-go-round!

Where’s the horse

For a kid that’s black?”

  • How does this poem make me feel?

This poem makes me feel that children back then were very accustomed to noticing the color of people’s skin, as well as having learned as a black kid that in those times they needed to be respectful and more cautious of what they say and what they do.

  • Are there particular parts of the poem that stand out for me and why?

A part of the poem that stands out to me is how the kid immediately asks the operator where he needs to sit to be able to ride the Merry-Go-Round. I think back in the day it was an instant thought to black people that they have their spot in the public eye. The reason why it stands out to me is because as a future educator in the United States, I know that kids now are a little careless and they don’t know the difference when they see a person of a different skin color.

  • What is the poet saying or how is the poet expressing themselves that makes me feel this way?

Langton Hughes is telling us that even in this time children were aware of what was going on in the United States. I think what Langston Hughes was trying to convey, is children were exposed to the harsh reality of people not liking them for the color of their skin. These children were somehow so understanding of how

  • What it meant to people then

I think when this poem was first published, people were still going through a hard time. People of any color were adjusting to change, and the thought that something new and frightening was going to change someone in any way would be alarming. I think that because segregation was still around at the time of the publication of this poem, people could see hope in the time that

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