It is February already, eh? Where the hell did January go?!

It is also Black History Month.

In my midteens, I became extremely interested in the history and personalities of (predominantly) the US civil rights movements of the 50s, 60s and 70s. A lot of this came about when I discovered a civil rights march button which an aunt wore at a demonstration in late 1960s Boston. This small, but powerful, family connection fascinated me.

Around the same time, I had a great English teacher who had units on racism, prejudice, and contemporary world issues — it made the texts and movies we were studying pop. He showed us every episode, over the month of February in Grade 9, of Roots, the miniseries. For fourteen year olds based in (seemingly) innocuous Prince Edward Island, it was eye-popping material.

Anyway, I first read this Langston Hughes poem in Grade 7, and I’ve always absolutely loved the imagery:

“Harlem”

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?

– Langston Hughes, 1951

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