Freedom’s Road

“The last road from slavery, the first road to freedom.”
–from the movie: A Movie Called Moses

When Harried Rose Tubman
Wore a mule’s harness and dragged a wagon
To entertain her white slavemaster’s friends,
I called my children.

When they threw food on a young girl in Little Rock, Arkansas
Because she wanted a better education,
I called my children.

When Malcolm X was gunned down by his own brothers
Because he had been to Mecca
And was dispelling the misconceptions,
I called my children.

When Martin Luther King fell on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel
And left a nation to mourn his death,
I called my children.

Come see this. Come see this!
I called them from their beds, broke my own rule to make them see.
Made them stand there and watch and then
Counseled them on what they owed
And what they could never repay.
Every poor grade brought history’s loud refrain;
Every task undone brought history’s loud refrain.
Not to teach them the hate of slavery
But to teach them the price of freedom
and why they must always strive,
Strive for the highest mountain.
Never claim the struggle of life as an enemy;
Never shackle themselves with the lie
Of “The white man ain’t gonna let ya . . .”
Or “We ought to go back to Africa.”
The blood of our people
Planted and harvested the crop that kept this Dixie fed;
The milk of our mothers
Filled the bellies of the babies that grew strong.

This is our America, too.
All our white brothers were not slave masters;
All our black brothers were not freedom fighters.
Seek the truth, know the truth, share the truth
Of history, for tomorrow.


Valentine Pierce
from her book Geometry of the Heart
Used by permission of the poet.

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