Labor Day, 2013, and what better way to mark the occasion than with a poem by Langston Hughes, a one-time busboy who had to look to the heavens to get even a hint of the American dream. This work, written in 1932, captured the essence of American capitalism in terms that sadly still apply today.
The sweat of generations poured together into the labor movement that built this country. Many of the labor benefits that we take for granted today are the results of past generations fighting, and sometimes dying, to form unions and give the working men and women hope for a better future. Langston Hughes knew that movement well and understood what the fight was about.
Good Morning, Revolution
by Langston Hughes
You are the best friend
I ever had.
We gonna pal around together from now on.
Say, listen, Revolution:
You know the boss where I used to work,
The guy that gimme the air to cut expenses,
He wrote a long letter to the papers about you:
Said you was a trouble maker, a alien-enemy,
In other words a son-of-a-bitch.
He called up the police
And told them to watch out for a guy
The boss knows you are my friend.
He sees us hanging out together
He knows we're hungry and ragged,
And ain't got a damn thing in this world -
And are gonna do something about it.
The boss got all his needs, certainly.
Owns a lotta houses,
Runs politics, bribes police
Pays off congress
And struts all over earth -
But me, I ain't never had enough to eat.
Me, I ain't never been warm in winter.
Me, I ain't never known security -
All my life, been livin' hand to mouth
Hand to mouth.
We're buddies, see -
We can take everything:
Factories, arsenals, houses, ships,
Railroads, forests, fields, orchards,
Bus lines, telegraphs, radios,
(Jesus! Raise hell with radios!)
Steel mills, coal mines, oil wells, gas,
All the tools of production.
(Great day in the morning!)
And turn 'em over to the people who work.
Rule and run 'em for us people who work.
Boy! Them radios!
Broadcasting the very first morning to USSR:
Another member of the International Soviet's done come
Greetings to the Socialist Soviet Republics
Hey you rising workers everywhere greetings -
And we'll sign it: Germany
Sign it: China
Sign it: Africa
Sign it: Italy
Sign it: America
Sign it with my one name: Worker
On that day when no one will be hungry, cold oppressed,
Anywhere in the world again.
That's our job!
I been starvin' too long
Let's go, Revolution!