Refugee in America 

Langston Hughes 

There are words like Freedom
Sweet and wonderful to say. 
On my heart-strings freedom sings 
All day everyday. 

There are words like Liberty
That almost make me cry. 
If you had known what I knew 
You would know why. 


Shaping Interpretations 

1. Describe in a sentence or two what you think the theme, or message, of “Refugee in America” is. 

2. The speaker of “Refugee in America” has different reactions to two words that mean nearly the same thing. Do you see any differences in meaning between the words freedom and liberty? Explain. 

3. What is a refugee? (Look up the word in a dictionary if you’re not sure of its meaning.) How can someone be a refugee in his or her own country? 

Connecting with the Text 

4. How does Hughes’s poem make you feel about being an American. In what ways is its message still relevant today? 

Extending the Theme 

5. Do you think Americans a different and better people since the days of the civil rights movement?


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