Fellow Travelers, a Showtime© series exploring the challenges queer individuals faced during McCarthyism, featured a pivotal scene. Journalist Marcus Hooks, portrayed by Jelani Aladdin, encounters the drag performer Frankie (Noah J. Ricketts) in an underground speakeasy who discusses Hooks' article on Langston Hughes. Hughes, noted for his racial and communist-themed works, becomes a topic of scrutiny by the committee, adding depth to the series. In a poignant moment, the two queer Black men share their appreciation for Hughes' writing, with Hooks reciting his favorite poem, Kids Who Die. Now, let's delve into the profound words of Langston Hughes through this impactful poem.

Kids Who Die

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don't believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don't want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don't want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies'll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter's field,
Or the rivers where you're drowned like Liebknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.

Further Reading: Poem Analysis of Kids Who Die, by Langston Hughes

Purchase: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics)

Murray. Langston Hughes. 1920s

Winold Reiss. 1925. Langston Hughes