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Harlem

“What happens to a dream deferred?” Langston Hughes’s question calls President Bill Clinton, pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, poet Sonia Sanchez, and students from the Harlem Children’s Zone to interpret Hughes’s most iconic poem,“Harlem.” Together with host Elisa New, the President and other guests, explore the poem’s rhythms and rhymes, interpret its images, and discuss its enduring call for justice.  

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Read the Poem

Harlem

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

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What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

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