When I was just a wee lad, year of our discord, 1958

We took a trip to the family farm, where my father's roots burned deep and      warm

Down South to Jasper Alabam', just a cornfield or two from Birmingham

Where the light folks owned what mattered and the dark folks scraped by the      best they could

I recall asking my grandfather if he was of prejudice like most all the rest

And he laughed and said, "why no, I hate all races equally, especially my own"

Looking back, it seems he was more liberal than most of his tired and
     humdrum peers

'Cause when he went into town he would wave and sometimes actually talk to      those called "ne'gro" and "colored"

And for this he was hated by some, though mostly in private behind his back

* * * * * * *

I recollect travelin' on the bus; an old tired dark man got on when we stopped      by a field

And being reared in good faith I stood up and offered him a chance to rest his      weary feet

The light folks on the bus all started whisperin', giving my father a 'who raised      your son' look

But the innocence of my youth offered no explanation for why my father      crouched low in his seat

I remember restrooms labeled "Men" and "Women" that were well attended,      spotlessly clean

And those marked "Colored" that hadn't seen a broom or mop for many a day

I recall "White Only" signs, proudly displayed in restaurant front windows

And badly injured dark folks waiting in line, while the light doctor treated light      children for a wisp of a sniffle

One day while visiting the county courthouse, I paused at a clean "White Only"      fountain for a cool drink

'Cause the one labeled "Colored" had putrid warm water and looked like a      janitorial cleaning room sink

In the humid summer evenings after dinner, my uncles and cousins would sit      on the front porch

And talk about being Democrats and that damn Kennedy, who one day may      somehow, even be elected

And discuss who had cheated and who had died and whose woman had worn      shorts on Sunday

And make jokes about niggers and complain about niggers and swear against      niggers

As though they somehow understood the root cause of the whole earth's

* * * * * * *

Some say there should be no memorial for America's greatest son and what he
     did, does not much matter

Others tried hard to find evidence against him, as if they themselves were not      the cause of the problem

Some people go to war and then come home and march in parades; a nation      salutes and calls them heroes

Other people go to war every day and die in pain, poverty and obscurity, never      having known what a good day is

I've joined teamster and construction unions and heard a lot of talk of 'balls'      and rumor of 'balls'

But until one has personally seen where Rosa Parks grew up, one has never      heard of the word "courage"

And until one marches in Selma’s sweltering heat with Martin Luther King, Jr.,      there is no understanding of what bravery is

Until one knows of Auschwitz and the cruel reality of our species' legacy, one      has not heard nor can comprehend the word "evil"

Until one honors Sitting Bull, repenting of savage blasphemies against the      American Nations

One has no idea what sin is, or whose faith it takes to move mountains

And until one understands why peace's prince was crucified, there is no      understanding of what truth is

Nor has one been to the mountain top, or understood the fundamental      problem

For wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to isolation and confusion      and death

Though still water runs deep as high as the heavens tower above our brutal      insanity played out here on Planet Earth

And as long as we have fear and hatred, and bigotry in our soul, we know not      who the slave is, nor who it is, who is truly free

The King Center      Holocaust: Project ABE

Give Kids The World

DEDICATED TO:  Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth; 19th Century American champions of Human and Civil Rights.  Also dedicated to the late  Ralph Abernathy, longtime soldier of the modern  Civil Rights Movement and American businessman Henri Landwirth, survivor of Auschwitz who came over to America after the war with $20 in his pocket, became a successful millionaire and continues to donate millions back through his charity for physically challenged children, Give Kids The World---truly one of the most inspiring stories in American history.


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

No part of this material may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher and signed by the author.  Inquiries: Freedom Tracks Records or requested via eMail.  Essays entitled Revolution and Revolution - Side B are open copyright and may be reproduced as often as one likes.