A Poem for International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Modern slavery is defined as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.

It’s estimated that over 40 million adults are victims of modern slavery, and 150 million children are subject to child labor.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was born on the 37th anniversary of the day Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Hughes became an American poet, novelist, short story writer, non-fiction writer, and playwright. He was a major figure of the Harlem Renaissance in New York.

To read “Remember” by Langston Hughes click:

Underage Worker in U.S. tobacco field — Boys in India working construction — Girl garment worker


by Langston Hughes

The days of bondage—
And remembering—
Do not stand still.
Go to the highest hill
And look down upon the town
Where you are yet a slave.
Look down upon any town in Carolina
Or any town in Maine, for that matter,
Or Africa, your homeland—
And you will see what I mean for you to see—
The white hand:
The thieving hand.
The white face:
The lying face.
The white power:
The unscrupulous power
That makes of you
The hungry wretched thing you are today.

“Remember” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes –  Vintage Classics, Random House

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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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