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COMING BACK TO ILLINOIS

Coming back to Illinois, this time central, not

southern, from Iowa made me feel things I did

not expect.  So much History, yet a sense of being

suspended, perhaps because we face a new

millenium.  I find myself thinking back a lot, on

the turbulent urban-crazed sixties, troops in the street,

students uncompromising on campus, Africanity

everywhere.  Ubi sunt?  Where are the snows of

yesteryear?  Going to Lincoln, Illinois, and

remembering pictures of Langston Hughes with his

mother, who taught him to love literature, standing

beside their house in Lincoln, pictures of Langston

and high school friends grinning into a camera held

by somebody who cared, stirred me.  Langston,

rooted here in the Midwest, reached out so much,

to Harlem, Paris, Africa, Russia, Spain,

—an everwidening circle.  I like to think I talk to him

across that space and time.

 

Springfield, Illinois

February 1995

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