My People -- poetry activity

Not a new idea, but a particular use of it that has worked very well. The activity revolves around a close reading of a poem by Langston Hughes, using an eraser…

In this activity participants memorize/study the following short poem by Langston Hughes.

My People

The night is beautiful.

So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful.

So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.

Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.


  • write the poem on a blackboard
  • ask everyone to read it silently

Sample categories for the Union Democracy and Power Line

These are categories we used in the power line at the 2000 National Rank-and-File Carpenters Conference in Boston, Mass. that AUD organized with Carpenters for a Democratic Union.


  • In the actual chart, the categories were much larger -- 90 point type.
  • You have to create categories that match your participants and their concerns (based on any information you can gather before the event).
  • You should always include at least two blank columns and encourage participants to add any categories they think are missing from the power line.