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Draft of Hughes' 'Ballad of Booker T.'
Hughes' poem "The Ballad of Booker T"

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Langston Hughes Was Born
February 1, 1902

In 1941, Hughes wrote the poem "The Ballad of Booker T" about the controversial educator, Booker T. Washington. A freed slave, Washington became a political leader for African Americans in 1881. Some people believe he was too cooperative with the white leaders. Hughes understood Booker's situation and explained it in the poem:

Sometimes he had
Compromise in his talk-
For a man must crawl
Before he can walk-
And in Alabama in '85
A joker was lucky
To be alive.

Ask your family if anyone has read poetry or stories by Langston Hughes. And while you're at it, ask your parents and grandparents to tell some stories about the past. Maybe they will inspire you.

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