When my class studies poetry later in the year, we will be looking at some of the works written by poet Langston Hughes. I choose an image from the Morris collection depicting Aunt Phoebe as the image respectfully represents an African American person in her day to day life. I would like students to analyze Aunt Phebe’s photo regarding the poem “I, too” which is a poem that explores the unjust prejudice that African Americans faced and how the “darker brother” is still an American. The poem also explores how perceptions of other individuals (specifically groups of individuals) change over the course of time.
Morris’ collection represents all of the luxuries that a wealthy, affluent person born in 1863 was afforded (Morris and his family,) which is a stark contrast to the appearance of some of the subjects that he photographed. Aunt Phoebe looks as though she has had a hard life- her face looks weathered and her clothing are loose fitting, but she has a smile on her face. The image echo’s the line in the poem that states “Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed –I, too, am America.” The line from the poem conveys that the African American citizen is just as beautiful and valid as white citizens, and that eventually white citizens would see and respect that.
7th Grade English Language Arts teacher
November 18, 2017