Brotherly Love

by Langston Hughes

[Dr. King and Langston Hughes maintained a friendship for years. Hughes wrote this poem in 1956 during the 13-month Montgomery bus boycott. Day after day, Negroes walked miles to work instead of riding the buses, and Dr. King first emerged as a leading force in the civil rights movement.]

A Little Letter to the White Citizens of the South

In line of what my folks say in Montgomery,
In line of what they’re teaching about love,
When I reach out my hand, will you take it
Or cut it off and leave a nub above?

If I found it in my heart to love you,
And if I thought I really could,
If I said “Brother, I forgive you,”
I wonder, would it do any good?

So long, so long a time you’ve been calling
Me all kinds of names, pushing me down –
I been swimming with my head deep under water,
And you wished I would stay under until I drown.

But I didn’t!  I’m still swimming!  Now you’re mad
Because I won’t ride in the back end of your bus.
When I answer, “Anyhow, I’m gonna love you,”
Still and yet, you want to make a fuss.

Now listen, white folks!
In line with Reverend King down in Montgomery –
Also because the Bible says I must –
I’m gonna love you – yes I will! Or BUST!

One thought on “Brotherly Love”

  1. Fabulous!



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