Photo of the letter from Langston Hughes to Du Bois

Poetic Tributes to W. E. B. Du Bois

Below are winners of the Du Bois Center’s poetry contest in April during National Poetry Month. Top image: Letter from Langston Hughes to W. E. B. Du Bois, May 17, 1941, thanking him and expressing his “continued appreciation,” upon the 20th anniversary of the first appearance of Hughes’s poetry in the “Crisis” magazine.

Black Mirror

Was there ever a litany to the grief?
Of shattered hearts and broken glass,
Of shards which cut the bloodied hand,
And reflect the bloodstains of the land,
A darkened line which none shall pass.

Was there ever a litany to the grief?
To those who stared into their soul,
Saw right from left and left from right,
’Twas staring back with calm and spite,
A mindless shot! That cracked it whole.

Was there ever a litany to the grief?
It’s buried in the shards you stole.

—Aniruddha Sen ’24
Information and Computer Science
New Delhi, India

William Edward Burghardt

Oh, to think of Du Bois.

95 years and 28 stories, full of stories
his, and others’

A fearsome advocate
home to falcons

Guiding beacon to lost students,
and guiding beacon to a movement
to people who are learning and doing
for a better

Speaker. Playright. Poet.
Husband. Father.
A multifaceted figure or controversy and legend.

The research that shed light on the racial divide,
The Crisis that took on The Crisis,
The N-A-A-C-P that united,
bricks in the buildings of better days ahead

Bane to Booker T. Washington,
and haven to late night wanderers.

Oh, to think of Du Bois.

—Ryan Duggan ’21
Natural Resource Conservation
Saugus, MA