One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, "I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet," meaning, I believe, "I want to write like a white poet"; meaning subconsciously, "I would like to be a white poet"; meaning behind that, "I would like to be white." And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.

[Last sentence]: We build our temples for tomorrow, as strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, 'free within ourselves.'

More at: The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, Langston Hughes
1926, The Nation, Courtesy of University of Illinois English Department

Tommie Smith, John Carlos, '68 Olympic Games
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