An Analysis of Langston Hughes’ Poem, Freedom Train

There is very little left to the imagination when reading Langston Hughes “Freedom Train”. His ideas of being free are apparent from the beginning of his poem. However, although he spells everything out, he still leaves a couple of things for his readers to figure out. He starts off wanting to know all about this train he keeps hearing. He says, “I read in the papers about the Freedom Train. I heard on the radio about the Freedom Train.” He wants to know everything he can about this train. Its almost as if everybody knows there is such thing as a train, but its almost as if no one knows what the train is.

Towards the middle of the poem the realist in Hughes comes out. He goes into the doubts that most African Americans had at the time. He says, “Down South in Dixie only train I sees got a Jim Crow car set aside for me.” Another interesting technique he adds is when he capitalizes the “WHITE FOLKS ONLY” and “FOR COLORED” signs. He either does this to draw attention to the cause, or to try and know what it feels like to have these signs sticking in your face. He specifically mentions Birmingham, Mississippi, and Georgia during the poem.

These were key cities that were into segregation of the South. “When it stops in Mississippi will it be made plain everybody’s got a right to board the freedom train.” Hughes almost is becoming a little agitated in the poem when he refers to these cities, especially when he is talking about Birmingham. “The Birmingham station’s marked COLORED and WHITE, the white folks go left, the colored go right.” In this part of the poem, he is questioning whether or not this Freedom Train is too good to be true. He sounds like he doubts a little of what this Freedom Train is all about. He knows there is a train, but there have been a lot of promises before that were not fulfilled, he does not want to get his hopes up before he finds out more about this train. Towards the end of the poem , he starts sounding like the optimistic Hughes we all have come to know and love.

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An Analysis of Langston Hughes’ Poem, Freedom Train. (2018, Feb 04). Retrieved from