Watch & Listen

Amanda Gorman: “Old Jim Crow Got to Go” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”


January 28, 2021 — As part of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles online program "Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters," Amanda Gorman reads the Langston Hughes classic "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and her own poem "Old Jim Crow Got to Go."

Discussing “Old Jim Crow Got to Go” with the New York Times in 2018, Gorman said, “I created this poem entirely from textual protest media (protesters, fliers, buttons, headlines) from the mid- to late-20th century, inspired heavily by the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s digital archives. Phrases remain in their original form with amended punctuation and line breaks.”

Coming a week after Gorman's appearance at the presidential inauguration in Washington on January 20, the Los Angeles event was part of the nationwide celebration of 250 years of African American poetry centered on the release of the Library of America anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song, edited by Kevin Young.

Click here to watch the complete January 28 Library Foundation of Los Angeles program.