In Let America be America Again, Hughes explains his hopes for America, while also showing the differences of the reality of those who came to this country. “Let America be the dream that the dreamers dreamed.” Hughes suggests that those who came to America saw it as a free land and safe haven to escape the things that they were going through. Once they were there though, they see that it was never the “homeland of the free” that they dreamed.
In Salvation, Hughes speaks about the pressures he felt as a young boy to accept a religion and “be saved” even though he did not feel this way at all. I believe he took the words the adults told him about “seeing a light” literally and felt ashamed that he did not experience this. It took a toll on him and made him lose faith. I think this draws into the experience of colored people in a white dominant country. The feel ashamed when they cannot completely conform to the ways of others but that also does not mean they don’t want to. It also does not mean they are completely different and inferior to the dominant race.
In Advertisement for the Waldorf Astoria, Hughes is criticizing a hotel that was advertised during a time when many were homeless and starving. Rich people, “some of the men and women who got rich off of your labor” were spending money on hotel rooms while others who worked hard were still poor and these were usually the colored people. “Blacks were much less likely to hold better-paying skilled jobs, and they were more likely to work for lower-paying companies.” (Maloney, 2002)
“The real question, however, is not which past should count as ours but why any past should count as ours. Virtually all the events and actions that we study did not happen to us and were not done by us. In this sense, the history we study is never our own; it is always the history of people who were in some respects like us and in other respects different.”(Benn Michaels, 128) I believe Benn Michaels was arguing that the actions of people are their own and are not based on what happened to their ancestors or what is read in a history book. This is true, however there are many people who believe that our ancestors past defines us today; that we cannot stray from these views and be a better America. I think Hughes’ poem themes show the discrimination that African-Americans went through because of people like that.