Langston Hughes

The Heart of Harlem

The buildings in Harlem are brick and stone
And the streets are long and wide,
But Harlem’s much more than these alone,
Harlem is what’s inside -
It’s a song with a minor refrain,
It’s a dream you keep dreaming again,
It’s a tear you turn into a smile.
It’s the sunrise you know is coming after a while.
It’s the shoes that you get half-soled twice.
It’s the kid you hope will grow up nice.
It’s the hand that’s working all day long,.
It’s a prayer that keeps you going along -
         That’s the heart of Harlem!

It’s Joe Louis and Dr. W.E.B.,
A stevedore, a porter, Marian Anderson, and me.
It’s Father Divine and the music of Earl Hines,
Adam Powell in Congress, our drivers on bus lines.
Its Dorothy Maynor and it’s Billie Holiday,
The lectures at the Schomburg and the Apollo down 
        the way.
It’s Father Shelton Bishop and shouting Mother Horne.
It’s the Rennie and the Savoy where new dances are
It’s Canada Lee’s penthouse at Five-Fifty-Five.
It’s Small’s Paradise and Jimmy’s little dive.
It’s 409 Edgecombe or a cold-water walk-up flat -
But it’s where I live and it’s where my love is at
         Deep in the Heart of Harlem!

It’s the pride all Americans know.
It’s the faith God gave us long ago.
It’s the strength to make our dreams come true.
It’s a feeling arm and friendly given to you.
It’s that girl with the rhythmical walk.
It’s my boy with the jive in his talk.
It’s the man with the muscles of steel.
It’s the right to be free a people will never yield.
A dream...a song...half-soled shoes...dancing shoes
A tear...a smile...the blues...sometimes the
Mixed with the memory...and forgiveness...of our
But more than that, it’s freedom -
Guarded for the kids who came along - 
          Folks, that’s the Heart of Harlem!

spoken = Rotimi Agbabiaka