"The Negro Mother" always gets me. Yes, it's true. Teary-eyed and wrinkled chin is my state by the time I hit the middle of the poem. "Mother to Son" has similar sentiments, but it's so overused in English classrooms (mainly because it's easy and clear and full of blaring metaphor) that it has lost its impact for me. Personally, I think it's best used for voice. But I digress.
Hughes' work was prolific. While he wasn't a Brooklyn kind of guy, he claimed Whitman as one of his influences. We'll take it!
So Hughes' "The Negro Mother" it is. Click on the title if you want to read it in its entirety. If you want to know more about this Harlem Renaissance Man, check out the Poets.org page and the Wikipedia page.
from "The Negro Mother"
Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.
Now, through my children, young and free,
I realize the blessings denied to me.
I couldn't read then. I couldn't write.
I had nothing, back there in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears,
But I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
Sometimes, the road was hot with sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me--
I was the seed of the coming Free.