“the beautiful, needful thing”: Robert Hayden’s “Frederick Douglass”

This past weekend marked the fiftieth anniversary of what has come to be known as Bloody Sunday, when peaceful protestors in Selma, Alabama marching for civil rights were brutally attacked by state troopers.

In honor of this anniversary, I suggest reading Robert Hayden’s “Frederick Douglass,” a powerful poem by one the twentieth century’s best American poets. Robert Hayden’s most anthologized poem is probably “Those Winter Sundays” (which I wrote about here). He was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—or, what is now known as Poet Laureate—the first African American poet to hold the post.

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