Dear Dr. King, your legacy is the source of our revival

The other night i watched our first black president address his nation for the last time

like you, he spoke to millions of faces — white and black faces that just seemed to blend together

through the glowing screen i watched your dream personified

his optimism echoed your message, Dr. King, but in the wake of November 8th i found myself angry, scared, defeated

and in that moment Barack was not enough

in that moment your dream was not enough

and so i began to sing

my country tis of thee, 

sweet land of liberty,

of thee i sing; 

land where my fathers died;

land of the pilgrim’s pride;

from every mountain side 

let freedom ring! 

i am reminded that— we are not free until all Americans can walk in equality

though unshackled and legs moving

we are anchored to a rock

a rock of injustice, racism, fear, intolerance

a rock colored red white and blue

when guns melt black bodies to tarred streets

I say let freedom ring! —-red white and blue

when the soil drains justice, peace, love and decency from the very fabric that stitches the American people together as one

I say let freedom ring! —-red white and blue

when the rock solidifies hatred from every nook and cranny of our government

I say let freedom ring! —-red white and blue

red white and blue

i want to let freedom ring but i often see only, you — red white and blue

but freedom we often forget

freedom we often forget until about this time of year when we honor your words, Dr. King

this is the time of year when your presence illuminates every news channel, choirs sing aloud, parents pull theirs kids up on eager laps and tell your story

we tell a story of a heroic man who towered over injustice

a man who proclaimed words from a wellspring of love and wisdom

a man who knew his legacy would inspire 365 days a year

but lately, in the face of overt hatred and bigotry we have reverted to a hopelessness

some might say it happened after your dream was realized through Obama

others might say it was never realized because you still had much to do

whatever it may be we’ve come to a place where the weight of struggle has become a heavy burden again

but even as i write this i remember your very words

“we must continue to struggle through legalism and legislation” 

it was not an easy road that brought us here, and it is not an easy road that will take us to freedom

but freedom does not ring without fight

not a fight that calls for retaliation or burning what is left of red white and blue

but one that calls for unity and courage

today and everyday, Dr. King, you remind us that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice 

everyday we need to act justly and move toward the light

our journey has to start small, right here in our backyards

i am reminded that before your assassination you moved to yet another grassroots effort — Dr. King, you found your way to Memphis and worked with sanitation workers

so, even in the face of major national losses, we have got to fight for justice within our neighborhoods —  here — in Delray

we have to choose between right and wrong right here in our community

that’s how the fight for justice prevails

Dr. King, you taught us that oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. the urge for freedom will eventually come. 

we, the American people will not idle in a castle awaiting another civil rights knight to save us. we will have to take action. we will have to turn our anger, sadness, and defeat into freedom for every single American so that your legacy can truly live on each and every day

Written by Flose Boursiquot, author of Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe 

*This original poem was written for Spady Museum’s 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast and later appeared in the February 2017 issue of the Delray Newspaper.*

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