Let America Be America Again: A Fourth of July Poem

Let America Be America Again is a poem written by Langston Hughes in the 1930s. It is appropriate, in my opinion, to read it on this national holiday as we celebrate the Fourth of July and as we continue to struggle against unjust laws and tyranny.

A video version, narrated by Alfre Woodard, is available online.

Let America Be America Again

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!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

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Senate Call-In To Stop TrumpCare

The United States Senate is scheduled to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act later this month by which 23 million will lose their health care coverage. Political analysts currently believe the TrumpCare bill (American Health Care Act, or AHCA) currently before Congress will pass unless there is overwhelming reaction by the voting public.

“Our pressure makes political change possible”, according to Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org. He went on to state “an uprising is needed to stop the Republican bill from passing”. The following doable actions have been suggested:

  • Use social media to message your friends about the American Health Care Act.
  • Contact your U.S. Senator – especially Republican Senators – using the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly to the requested Senate office.
  • Call everyday and flood Senate offices with phone calls. (Wednesday, June 13 is a national call-in day.)
  • Recruit others to call.
  • Join a local Indivisible Group.
  • Attend rallies outside a Republican Senator’s district office.

Particular emphasis has been placed on calling Senate Republicans from the states of Alaska, Colorado, Ohio, Maine, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona and Nevada. Urge friends and family in these states to take action, too.

A full listing of Senators is available at https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

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LIHEAP Deadline: May 31, 2017

The deadline to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is May 31, 2017. Applications with a May 31 postmark will be accepted. Applicants who had previously been denied may wish to reapply if their circumstances have changed, particularly if their monthly income has been reduced.

For details see the Department of Community Affairs March 9 press release. Applications with incomplete documentation will be put into pending status for thirty days, according to a DCA spokesperson.

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Online Safety Net Tools and Applications, Part II

The purpose of this article is to alert you to a number of safety net applications that can be downloaded or completed directly online. They cover a variety of topics, including programs for seniors, financial assistance, child care, energy, utilities and welfare.

There is a section of this site’s community resource page known as the ‘Public Benefits Corner’ that provides links to a number of these online or downloadable applications. There are links for the following:

  • NJ FamilyCare application
  • Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD), Senior Gold, and Medicare Savings Programs – programs for seniors
  • Child Support Services
  • Subsidized Child Care
  • LIHEAP/USF/Weatherization – one application to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Universal Service
    Fund (USF) and the Weatherization Assistance Program
  • Communications Lifeline program for Verizon landline customers
  • Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – how to find your local WIC agency
  • State Unemployment Insurance
  • State Temporary Disability Insurance
  • Transportation Programs for former TANF clients

Links to these safety net programs and applications are available in the
Public Benefits Corner of this website. Knowing where to go online is the first step.

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Discontent and Primary Election

An interesting article appeared in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer by Kevin Riordan their South Jersey columnist. The article is titled, “Discontent fuels progressive slate in Cherry Hill.” The introduction begins with the following: “This refreshing if not quite revolutionary political effort arises in part from concerns about the redevelopment of South Jersey’s signature suburb, but also is being propelled by worries about the direction of the Democratic Party and the nation itself.”

Kevin Riordan goes on to write, “The fact that the mainstream Cherry Hill Democrats have been supported for decades by a sophisticated, well-financed county party organization that cultivates generational loyalty has led, the progressives say, to a municipal government that is more insular and less transparent than it would like the public to believe.”

Many discontented citizens would probably agree with the above – irrespective of town or county you live in. Kevin Riordan said it in a polite manner. Others would be more plain by stating that major party county committees aka “political machines” are entrenched and always anxious to maintain their political power, absent any regard for the betterment or well-being of the people in the community. If you are angry with the current situation, then you should make sure you are registered to vote.

Tomorrow, May 16, is the last opportunity to register and vote in the June 6 Primary Election. You can obtain a Voter Registration Application which must be delivered or mailed/postmarked by tomorrow to your local county elections office.

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Employment Search Websites

The unemployment rate has dropped significantly in the past few years. However, don’t expect cheers from the 1.6 million in the United States who have been jobless for more than six months, or the out-of-work breadwinner in Cape May county where the unemployment rate currently stands at 14.1%.

One of the most read blog articles on this site is titled, “OnRamp – New Jersey Job Seekers Online Tool” and was posted in 2012. Today’s post is a revisit of current employment search tools and programs available to New Jersey job seekers.

The New Start Career Network was created in 2015 to help the long-term unemployed. They “provide older (ages 45+), long-term unemployed New Jersey job seekers with access to free, personalized career services, including web-based information resources and in-person and virtual career coaching.” Visit their site. Read their brochure.

One Stop Career Centers are located in all twenty-one counties in New Jersey. They provide: job search assistance, training and education assistance as well as on-site resource rooms (PCs, telephones, etc.).

OnRamp is an online service provided by the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (LWD). You can create an account and receive the following:

  • Simple upload and use of an existing resume and online tools to easily build a new resume;
  • Resume enhancing tools that suggest ways to improve your resume;
  • The ability to search job opportunities collected from over 2,400 sources in one place;
  • Automatic email notices of new jobs matching your skills and experience;
  • Matches to jobs you have the skills for, but may not have considered applying to;
  • You control what information an employer can see and how you are contacted by employers who wish to interview you.

LWD provides a page with a listing of Job Fairs throughout the state.

Public libraries provide easy access to employment resources. For example, go visit the Newark Public Library’s job and career resources webpage. Reference librarians are more than happy to help. See the New Jersey Libraries page for your local public library.

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Lunchtime Activist

The other day I was reading posts on a MoveOn discussion list. One from Clarissa K. caught my eye. I thought it is worth sharing. She writes:

“We have created a platform much like Daily Action but it offers more than just phone calls. Lunchtime Activist. Small acts of resistance you can complete on your lunch break! Please share, follow on Twitter, Facebook and sign up for our email alerts!” https://www.facebook.com/lunchtimeactivist.”

An article on yesterday’s Lunchtime Activist began with this banner: “With Government Ditching Regulations, Support Companies That Invest in Clean Energy”. Everyone can contribute in their small way to resist the current administration in Washington. Checkout Lunchtime Activist.

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