Mother to Son

by Langston Hughes
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Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair

(Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby Singing during Harlem Renaissance)


Langston Hughes was a motivational poet and black leader. Hughes was unashamedly black at a time when blackness was not accepted. I believe that one great aspect that Hughes incorporated into his theater work and poetry was the idea that

Black is Beautiful.

During this time, especially, blacks weren’t accepted into society because of the stereotype of being “low-lives” and prejudices based on skin color within the black community.

Langston Hughes wrote several reflections based on his love for Jazz during the Harlem Renaissance. His main concern was to uplift his people of black skin. He centered generally on insightful views of the working class lives of blacks in America, lives he portrayed as full of struggle, joy, laughter, and music. Music during the Harlem Renaissance became an influence on the work of Hughes; it was motivational and was a huge part of his life.

The Banjo Lesson by Henry Osswa Tanners is a painting that I could easily connect to Langston Hughes poetry. In the painting it looks to me that the older grandparent is passing his talent of how to play the Banjo to his grandson. Because of this I was able to connect to the poem Mother to Son by Hughes, when she tells her child what to expect in the future and tells him her past experiences of being black.

Back to "The Banjo Lesson"

Turn the Corner to "Road to Modesto"