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Democracy Summary & Analysis
by Langston Hughes

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“Democracy” is a poem by the American writer Langston Hughes. First published in 1949, the poem explores the Black American experience at a time of extreme segregation, inequality, and state-sponsored racism. The speaker argues that the United States cannot truly be a democracy until everyone has equal rights, and that equality and freedom are as necessary as food when it comes to survival. The speaker further suggests that democracy will only come about through a powerful social movement for change. Hughes included “Democracy” in his collection One-Way Ticket, which was illustrated by the American painter Jacob Lawrence.

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