Stewart Acuff on the 4th of July…I read this twice

My friend and long-tine labor activist Stewart Acuff posted this poem regarding the 4th of July.  I wanted to make sure that you saw this.  I had to read it twice.  This is one of those pieces from both the heart and soul.

Time to celebrate independence

Freedom from tyranny

The long struggle to free all Americans

And to extend America’s promise

To all her people, right?

Without regard to race, creed, color,

Gender, sexual orientation, language,

Place of birth, choice of love

No, not this 4th, not now

But the 4th is not just about Independence

It is when Vicksburg, MS fell to Union forces

Opening up the Mississippi River to the

Union from Minnesota to New Orleans

The 4th of July, the very same day is when

Union forces drove Lee’s Army of the

Confederacy from the battlefield of blood

At Gettysburg.

That great struggle to free

African-Americans turned the irreversible

Corner on the 4th of July, 1863 and the

Union began to win, ushering in a longer

Struggle for freedom and justice and

Equal rights for all, finally realized in

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the

Voting Rights Act of 1965.

And now it no longer counts?

800,000 lives in the Civil War

Numberless lynchings – do you know what

A lynching is? It ain’t just a hanging

It is hours of sadistic torture with whippings

And castration and burnings and sadism

Of every sort.

And now this Supreme Court says that’s okay

The states have the right to deny what so

Many died for and suffered for

Is the Supreme Court of these United States

That ignorant or that redneck, peckerwood

Mean. I’ve seen ‘em mean and they enjoy it

Like the peckerwood beat Ann Richards

For Governor – if rape is inevitable just lay

Back and enjoy it.

Tears will run down my cheeks this

4th of July for what our own Supreme Racist

Court has cost These United States

And the folks who meant to settle these

Questions once and for all on the 4th of July

At Vicksburg and Gettysburg

And at Selma and Birmingham and Albany

And Montgomery and Greensboro and

South Carolina State in Orangeburg

And in the sears and scars in the hearts

And souls of so many Americans

Who struggled to make America real.

Really, this 4th of July you five men

Decide none of that mattered, not the

Midnight screams and babies without

Daddies and six little girls in church in

Bombingham. None of it mattered.

Not the integrity of a nation?

Mr. 5 Supreme Court justices may you

Hear the screams at Gettysburg and see the

Hunger at Vicksburg, may you see

John Lewis and his clubbing and

Viola Liuzzo and her shooting on Route 80

Mr. 5 Supreme Court justices may you

Hear the screams of Chaney, Goodman and

Schwerner as they were tortured to death

Outside Philadelphia, Miss. May you hear

The wails of the parents of 6 little girls in

Bombingham, Al.

May your soul and heart rest uneasy.

This is sin of the most awful sort.

But your action is in vain.

We ain’t goin’ back. Never.

Take your best shot. Kill us. Our souls

Rise up. Throw us in prison. Our hearts

Sing out. We ain’t goin’ back.

Throw everything you got at us.

We will take it and keep on comin’.

We are already assembled on the

Battlefield of justice and we will keep

Comin’ on until we roll you over.

Photo source: dbking from Washington, DC via Wikimedia Commons

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