My Eyes Have Seen the Glory (1956)

By Bertell Ollman

Oh say can you see,
By the torch's flickering light,
A statue in the bay
Swinging by its neck?
It seems she turned around to see
The country for which
She had been advertising liberty
The verdict—suicide.

Cause way down south in Dixie,
Right White Citizen Councils are emerging
Like vermin out of talcum powdered dung
To blaspheme for segregated sex play in schools.
No mongrelizing down here,
No bastardizing down here.

Because way down south in decadent Dixie,
In Clinton Tennessee and Whatchamacallit Florida,
Fred Ku Klux Kasper is fermenting mellow spirits
Into 200 proof totalitarians.
No striped pants down here,
No human milk down here.

Because in the lowest part of low-down Dixie,
In the cute community called Mansfield, Texas,
They are paying "$100 per dozen
For 'nigger ears' ".
No mollycoddlers down here,
No Congressional Giants down here.

Because throughout hammy Eastland's clammy Dixie,
Black boys and girls are learning with leftovers,
And the equality of which we boast
Is railroaded out of thousands of towns with the N.A.A.C.P.
No pursuit of happiness down here,
No America down here.

Cause the statue thought that U.S.A. meant
United States of America, and not Union of South Africa,
And that "liberty" preceded
"Justice for all."
No if's, no but's, or maybe's here,
No moderation here.

Oh say can you see,
By the torch's flickering light,
A statue in the bay
Swinging by its neck?
It seems she turned around to see
The country for which
She had been advertising liberty.
The verdict—suicide.



More poems coming later.