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1
A Poem in Celebration of Black History
Russell D. Pierce
Our Arrivals Here
Honoring the Legacy of The Rev. Dr. Martin Lu...
2
shores, The Middle Passage, rebellion in the Americas, Nat Turner,
Toussaint L’Overture, P.B.S Pinchback, Reconstruction...
3
All this so that we could be recognized for bringing meaning and dignity
to the institutions of American civilization
An...
4
And can’t we get along
Bestowing all manner of glory at the pomp and circumstance
of prayerful supplicants as if service...
5
Then there was revelation, redemption, the Freedom Riders, the
hatred, the suffering and cries of a still distressed com...
6
So we weep, but told not to, for too long, for
surely a Savior shall come; and the day of reckoning will be here; and al...
7
who always wondered when an assembly of ore than two with common
hue gathered—was it a revolt, today a posse, stirring u...
8
Reginald Lewis
Madam C.J.Walker
George Washington Carver
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams and Blanche Bruce, too
A people of dis...
9
And let their be much music, rich and high sounding to announce as if
the very coming of the Lord was near—and our stay ...
10
Thus are we called here today the suffering and the offerings of the
wounded, on this day we celebrate the establishmen...
11
All for my people,
So we hear the poetic thunder of Wheatley,
Brookes, “Let a new earth arise, of men, bold, take hold ...
12
Every day to the streets of Ferguson
Every day we give witness to the Lord’s command
To give refuge to the sick
Clothin...
13
Yes
The choir now stands,
Straight
Poised
Arms stretched outward, heads turned upward in stylish silk
Push, Pull, Striv...
14
remainder, members, visitors and guests—mainly those who are in fact
the unchurched, the uncommitted in virtue before o...
15
Soulfully adrift—those who would protect their wealth against those
who would protect their sense of honor as the duty ...
16
among their ‘own kind’ calling it affinity, rather than the exclusiveness
it is cloaked in associational preference, ch...
17
All this without attending to beauty that really purifies our souls and
steadies our hunger for more than what necessit...
18
Yes
Well
And that I will not become a negligible factor in the history of the
world.
To all who are gathered, the augus...
19
Oh, what great troubles and trials abound
Here, Africa, Americas, Israel, Egypt,
Palestine, China, Russia and on Downin...
20
In a new unison with all, nature and each other
Amen
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A Narrative Poem Honoring Black Legacy

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A Narrative Poem Honoring Black Legacy

  1. 1. 1 A Poem in Celebration of Black History Russell D. Pierce Our Arrivals Here Honoring the Legacy of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. Acknowledgement is given especially to State Senator Chang-Diaz for attending this program and for describing the narrative poem as epic. Special thanks also is extended to those invitees who could not make the Program this year including supporters Mayor Walsh, State Representative Fox and State Representative Carvalho and City Councilor Jackson A POETIC NARRATIVE PREPARED ESPECIALLY UPON REQUEST AND IN RECOGNITION OF THE PEER COMMUNITY Director Office of Recovery and Empowerment January 2015 Ancient Kingdoms, Ghana, Songhai, Ethiopia, and Kush, Mali too A remarkable people, great civilization prior to the America’s captured we were, stories told by griots of our spirits, the heavens, but the ground too, before the Greeks, we schooled, abundantly blessed with resources, copper, zinc, coffee—commerce before shipped to these
  2. 2. 2 shores, The Middle Passage, rebellion in the Americas, Nat Turner, Toussaint L’Overture, P.B.S Pinchback, Reconstruction, the War Between the States, our Christology, our AME, our normal schools, our redemption, our Tuskegee, our Ben Carlson, our Althea Gibson, our Cleaver, our Ali, our Phyllis Wheatley, our Hiram Revels, our Judge Motley and Thurgood Marshall, Higginbotham, our W.E.B. Du Bois, our explorers, Henson, our singers, Leontyne Price, Ella, our Renaissance, our Ossie and Ruby Dee Oh, no Oh, yes The children have assembled The old have gathered here And all the family The congregants set quietly Historians would write, John Hope Franklin, intellectuals would challenge, W.E.B. Du Bois, and orators would sit besides presidents, Frederick Douglass, and entertainers would create artistry out of confusion, Josephine Baker
  3. 3. 3 All this so that we could be recognized for bringing meaning and dignity to the institutions of American civilization And not to become as we celebrate this day a negligible factor in the history of the world, so Carter G. Woodson, believed In their pews, oh yes The men, kneel Oh, no The children mourn The clouds of our God support such a scene as this. And yes, strange fruit Ida B. Well, Mob, Protests, Unrest
  4. 4. 4 And can’t we get along Bestowing all manner of glory at the pomp and circumstance of prayerful supplicants as if service was meant merely to anoint the saints among us. Yes Yes Their souls were lifted by the verses of old field songs, old ditties and spirituals. Oh, yes The hats worn atop coifed heads and long skirts and bejeweled breast pockets marked the arrival of the usher board, the home and foreign mission, the Elders, women of the grand masons—the women were a credit to this institution where all things holy dwelled with it specifically and in them there was a magnificent and indwelling of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost Yes Yes And let the Church say Aman
  5. 5. 5 Then there was revelation, redemption, the Freedom Riders, the hatred, the suffering and cries of a still distressed community There they were too, students, preachers, whites too assembled in the shock of dogs upon people at the Pettis Bridge, bloody the day was called and etched in archival memory, yet no mere artifact of the past, still reflected here In Watts In Los Angeles In Harlem In Ferguson Everywhere it seems around the world, Surmounting apartheid in South Africa; in China at the Square; people wanting freedom struggle unceasingly for it, risking both life and treasure
  6. 6. 6 So we weep, but told not to, for too long, for surely a Savior shall come; and the day of reckoning will be here; and all differences reconciled by the mighty hand the Great Councilor. The Church, the congregants prays for peace, but Grandmother Ethel stands up for her testimony in the Church of God in Christ, arms stretched toward the sky, and intones: “Lord, Oh, Lord, help us in these last and evil days” And the congregants say all-knowingly: “Well, well, well. Aman, Aman” And the preacher begins with a Word: “In my Father’s House there are many mansions…. And then I remember as though being awakened again that he really talking about our ‘freedom’ but as the poet would say in a most indirect way, not wanting to scare off those outside the group, the ceremony,
  7. 7. 7 who always wondered when an assembly of ore than two with common hue gathered—was it a revolt, today a posse, stirring up trouble. So he was, smiling talking our freedom, our reward in a ‘biblical’ way And Later we would hear the echo cast into modern parlance: Freedom Now The fierce urgency of now as gradualism is a type of tranquillizing drug, dating back centuries, expounded by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, but expressed in texts older than the Bible itself But, yes Absalom Jones, Allen, Daddy Grace, stand firm they would implore, stand before God, they would preach, simply stand As in for something other than self, dare to live, to live upright, righteous yes, but stand, stand firm In business and industry we have excelled. Banneker
  8. 8. 8 Reginald Lewis Madam C.J.Walker George Washington Carver Dr. Daniel Hale Williams and Blanche Bruce, too A people of distinction, We are. Words and missional advice to carry on in lands all over the world, service on earth would be our reward, but a newer theology served our purpose for today that a servant though we are, we are more than worth our hire and such was the intent of the servant woman in witnessing to her white madam I am more than you hire, Madam
  9. 9. 9 And let their be much music, rich and high sounding to announce as if the very coming of the Lord was near—and our stay here at near end. So let us pray and say in unison at any hint of distress. Amen. Jehovah God Counselor, Most Holy, Sacrifices at altar and state, and yet though manumitted, still not free— Tell us why, New Freedom, Old Freedom, Wars to end all Wars, Underground railroads now underground economies, Great Migrations, upward North to the Promised Land. Push and pull, they say Redeemer
  10. 10. 10 Thus are we called here today the suffering and the offerings of the wounded, on this day we celebrate the establishment of his schools, great universities and other institutions that marked the history of our emancipation and the reconstruction of this earth still marred by the memories not so distant of the cruelest oppression by the hands of man exercising dominion in the name of the Lord to control all flock, even though such segregations in voting, housing and employment bespeak not of the Lord’s House as originally intended, but the prejudices recalled every day through the remarkable etching of memory on even the most holy of garments, for nothing can wipe away such sin, nothing but judgment allows us to think even of joining in community ever again. Our community and our covenant are with God, and through Him all things are possible Yes Reform, Protest, Nat Turner, Vesey Rebellion, civil unrest too, Civil disobedience, Ghandi, King and Messiah, all She said it was a Christ that taught my soul benighted to understand
  11. 11. 11 All for my people, So we hear the poetic thunder of Wheatley, Brookes, “Let a new earth arise, of men, bold, take hold and control’ Yes Professing no belief in the righteousness of man, we are careful in extolling our own virtue, only to say that such long, long suffering is both unearned and rectified through grace. So it has been with our faith—a belief in the reality of redemption unseen as is the power of the Lord in community, unseen, but known by those who surrender, surrender all and believe And so sings, Lena Horne, believe We are marching every day to Zion Every day to Mount Olive
  12. 12. 12 Every day to the streets of Ferguson Every day we give witness to the Lord’s command To give refuge to the sick Clothing to the naked And rest to the afflicted, the infirm and the old Through our legitimate labor we are heaven bound—though not averting eyes to troubles here. Roll, Jordan, Roll Rivers I have Walked Amen
  13. 13. 13 Yes The choir now stands, Straight Poised Arms stretched outward, heads turned upward in stylish silk Push, Pull, Strive, Strive, Recovery I now know And the choir sings And the minister then delivers the Word After the Invocation During service and before the Benediction There is a type of order, a ranking between the deacon, deaconesses, the other worthies, the elder church mother, the trustee board and the
  14. 14. 14 remainder, members, visitors and guests—mainly those who are in fact the unchurched, the uncommitted in virtue before other witnesses. And let this be a lesson to you. But there is room aplenty In my Father’s House there are many mansions And there one day I shall live. But today, before the celebration of my homecoming and transitioning from under, I toil, So I toil, A servant worthy only of his hire So speaks the modern world abashed in abundance, material prosperity.
  15. 15. 15 Soulfully adrift—those who would protect their wealth against those who would protect their sense of honor as the duty to do justice and practice love with one another; those who treat these commands of the sovereign as nothing more than stylish, almost archaic reminders of a mere promise— So how we devalue the Nature, the Creator within us-- Pestilence and disease, foretold, yes, by the saints and prophets and disciples of old, Warned we were by elders, statesmen, but oh, how modern we have become with income, wealth and extravagance beyond need, And now, to the Great Virgin Mary, we weep, but she hears us not, accountable now to only what we have invested, our hollow selves. So modern in thinking and so common in greater virtue by critiquing those who embrace them, bullying young and old as outdated, out-of-step with trending in fashion, design, selling and commerce, pulling us further and apart so much so that people cluster
  16. 16. 16 among their ‘own kind’ calling it affinity, rather than the exclusiveness it is cloaked in associational preference, choice. I repeat, pestilence and disease of all kinds, of heart, mind, soul, spirit. HIV The despoiling of Nature—the air, the streams, the roadways, all polluted and environmental racism, too. Such fools we are as we seemingly and hubristically march toward another Armageddon Thus here now the celebration of a history, that promises so much in its Charters and Founding Principles, yet that too is marred by the reality of lawlessness in our own time, by profit over human need and the extension of both power and arrogance as ladders of arrival and self- improvement that both the young and old aspire.to. And yes He walked out onto space and was lonely and made a world, but now, but now
  17. 17. 17 All this without attending to beauty that really purifies our souls and steadies our hunger for more than what necessity would allow. For this we are hollow—hollow men and women. Yes Well Amen. To pursue this course of spiritual praise and call it practice through a re- tooling of Scripture is worse than fire water that has destroyed people around the world, an act of perversion that distorts the original design Natives peoples suddenly dicoered Yes Yes. I celebrate history, this day, as it was intended to be celebrated as a reflection on our past, by doing so, we advance our truth thrust upon the world, as if to say I am here, was here, will remain here.
  18. 18. 18 Yes Well And that I will not become a negligible factor in the history of the world. To all who are gathered, the august, the poor among us, the leaders and the holy ones too— Let us pray as we are able And let us celebrate here the day the Lord has made and awaken our sense of gratitude for the bestowing of another day to make a difference—and maybe even wear that Crown, suggesting in the battle of life, we have sufficiently overcome, but the soul is not yet satisfied— rested. Oh, let souls arise To, Thee, arise
  19. 19. 19 Oh, what great troubles and trials abound Here, Africa, Americas, Israel, Egypt, Palestine, China, Russia and on Downing Street What relief it will be When He says as though judgment is near that, as grandma said: Enough is enough, and too much is too much, even for the well-adjusted, the well-heeled and those of us who are just striving to get through. Oh Holy divine, Push, Pull. Carry, Climb Others, Sisters, Brothers, the world over, Stand, in recovery too
  20. 20. 20 In a new unison with all, nature and each other Amen

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