"Life is a big sea full of many fish. I let down my nets and pull. … I'm still pulling."
"It has seemed to me that most people are generally good, in every race and in every country where I have been."
Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,I heard a Negro play.Down on Lenox Avenue the other nightBy the pale dull pallor of an old gas lightHe did a lazy sway . . .He did a lazy sway . . .To the tune o' those Weary Blues.With his ebony hands on each ivory keyHe made that poor piano moan with melody.O Blues!Swaying to and fro on his rickety stoolHe played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.Sweet Blues!Coming from a black man's soul.O Blues!
I, too, sing America.I am the darker brother.They send me to eat in the kitchenWhen company comes,But I laugh,And eat well,And grow strong.Tomorrow,I'll be at the tableWhen company comes.Nobody'll dareSay to me,"Eat in the kitchen,"Then.Besides,They'll see how beautiful I amAnd be ashamed--I, too, am America.
"Most of my own poems are racial in theme and treatment, derived from the life I know. In many of them I try to grasp and hold some of the meanings and rhythms of jazz. I am as sincere as I know how to be in these poems and yet after every reading I answer questions like these from my own people: Do you think Negroes should always write about Negroes? I wish you wouldn't read some of your poems to white folks. How do you find anything interesting in a place like a cabaret? Why do you write about black people? You aren't black. What makes you do so many jazz poems? But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America; the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul—the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile."
"In many ways Hughes always remained loyal to the principles he had laid down for the younger black writers in 1926. His art was firmly rooted in race pride and race feeling even as he cherished his freedom as an artist. He was both nationalist and cosmopolitan. As a radical democrat, he believed that art should be accessible to as many people as possible. He could sometimes be bitter, but his art is generally suffused by a keen sense of the ideal and by a profound love of humanity, especially black Americans. He was perhaps the most original of African American poets and, in the breadth and variety of his work, assuredly the most representative of African American writers."