Baraka, Hughes maintained the ideal of the American dream through the black arts era, when others believed it could not function for African Americans. 18 For Hughes, this ideal was a hybrid philosophy, joined with elements of Pan-Africanism and residual radicalism.
In My America," published in 1943, Hughes reinscribes the dilemmas expressed in his plays of the '30s and early '40s. Though he recognizes his own hybridity, his "Indian" ancestry and his "purely American" background--the Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray position--he protests discrimination based on race. America's bundle of contradictions is reflected in the freedom to protest and the suppression of certain ideological positions by McCarthyism. Freedom's Plow," Hughes 1943 prose poem, also addresses the dilemmas of the American dream. The poem uses the spiritual lyrics Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! as a motif in a chronicle that includes slavery and black-white labor. 19
In For This We Fight, one of his final scripts of the war years, Hughes undermined and valorized the democratic argument, suggesting the future protest mode of his stage plays, especially Simply Heavenly. Through the voice of the urban folk, he would use the indirect protest of Little Ham rather than the frontal assault of his most successful experimental poetry plays, Scottsboro Limited and Don't You Want to Be Free?
Hughes's transition during the war years revealed his ultimate concern, revitalizing black images through theatre of celebration, which presents models for African Americans and entertainment for general audiences without compromising political principles. He also reaffirmed that black music and humor could be effective masks of social protest.