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“Harlem” is a poem by Langston Hughes that was first published in 1951. (It is also sometimes called “A Dream Deferred.”) Hughes’s poem famously opens with the question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” This question refers to the dream of socioeconomic uplift that Black communities have harbored since slavery ended, yet which never fully materialized. Given the deferment of this dream, the speaker ventures a series of speculations about what will happen if Black people have to keep waiting. The speaker’s first speculative answer—“Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?”—gave Lorraine Hansberry the title for her groundbreaking 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun.

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