(an allegory comparing slaves’
suffering with that of Christ)

I saw you then, my little black child.
You were running free in Africa’s wild.
I saw you gathering fiber and food
to shelter and feed your little brood.

    I, too, had been free in Nazareth
    and cared for my family after Daddy’s death.
    When destiny led me to preach the Gospel,
    I chose twelve fine men as my apostles.

    I saw you the moment they flung out the net
    and I flinched with your look I shall never forget
    when, quite futilely, you realized
    your own kind helped snare you as a prize.

    My mind then flashed back to Gethsemane
    and the time Roman soldiers arrested me.
    The thing that hurt then, and still hurts the worst,
    was the slight bulge I saw in Judas’ purse.

    I saw you again, being rudely dragged
    like some captured wild beast held in a bag;
    without any chance to kiss loved ones goodbye
    or bid them farewell. Seems I still hear them cry.

    My disciples deserted and all ran away
    when those soldiers surrounded me that day.
    The crowds spat on me. Their anger increased
    as I was dragged rudely toward the high priest.

    I saw in your eyes the look of dismay
    as you were shown in public display,
    while bawdy crowds checked your every detail
    with the sign ‘round your neck, “Black male for sale.”

    I know well the shame of public display.
    As the large courts of Annas and, all in one day,
    of Caiaphus, then Herod and Pilate gaped on,
    they questioned sharply if I were God’s Son.

    When you were paraded on the auction block,
    bewildered, confused, in a state of real shock,
    I heard the auctioneer’s eerie, loud chant
    and the tones of his voice so irreverent.

    My mind journeyed back to Pilate’s grand hall
    where I stood accused before both great and small
    of crimes that I had never committed.
    “Crucify him,” the angry mob shouted.

    The auctioneer barked, “How much will you pay
    for this young black male on auction today?
    Just buy him and go to America.
    He’ll make you as rich as Al Fatah.”

    “I find no fault in this good man, your king,”
    said Pilate, “and now I am offering
    to release either Him or Barabbas to you.”
    The crowd chose Barabbas in this auction of two.

    On the slave ship, bound with both bonds and stocks,
    I saw you strain hard to break the locks
    and I heard the lashes laid hard on your back
    by cruel slave masters in violent attack.

    Yes, I felt the lash, and possibly more so
    as I struggled up the Via Doloroso
    half naked and forced to carry my cross.
    I fell in a faint from the pain and blood loss.

    With you in America, I heard once again
    the auction’s loud drone above the crowd’s din,
    “This young black male can do lots of work
    if you drive him hard and not let him shirk.”

    Nailed fast to that cross, I heard sounds of dice
    as, for my purple robe without any splice,
    the soldiers now gambled in strange sort of auction.
    It took their stressed minds off the thing they had done.

    I saw you perspire in the broiling hot sun
    from earliest light until day was past done
    as you toiled endlessly in the cotton fields.
    From pain and great thirst, I know that you reeled.

    My own mother watched throughout my ordeal
    and heard every word of my ardent appeal
    for her to be cared for in my absence.
    My pain and my thirst had become so intense.

    As you dutifully tended your master’s ground,
    your work songs with their doleful sounds
    rung loud in my ears as they were sung.
    They showed the hope to which you still clung.

    My plea from the cross also reached Heaven’s shore
    when I called to My Father, whom I adore,
    and I asked with My last failing energy,
    “My God, why have You forsaken me?”

    For too many years your sad plight appeared
    to fall on hopelessly deafened ears.
    Broad conflict ensued before Lincoln could say,
    “All who are enslaved are set free today.”

    The vinegar they offered me, held in a sponge,
    brought no relief as it touched my tongue.
    My thirst and my pain weren’t the least bit diminished.
    I bowed down my head and cried, “It is finished.”

    True freedom springs, not from strokes of a pen,
    but acceptance from self and from fellow men.
    Many years came and went. Those walls never fell
    and your life continued a living hell.

    My disciples fled to a tightly locked room
    when they laid my dead body in a borrowed tomb.
    My path, just like yours, led me down into Hell
    to preach to those souls under Satan’s dark spell.

    Ever so slowly, the light seemed to dawn
    as, one at a time, your kindred were drawn
    to seek after knowledge in its broadest spectrum,
    and I heard someone sing, “We shall overcome.”!

    It was thought to be impossible by some
    that anyone ever could overcome
    the grave, death’s deepest and darkest domain;
    but I shed Satan’s shroud and I rose again.

    With knowledge, your power would soon start to grow
    until everyone in the whole world would know
    the words that are now held in highest esteem.
    You know them quite well, “I have a dream.”

    And I … I have my own dream as well
    that all men will join with all those who tell
    the good news to people everywhere,
    “God loves me enough, there is plenty to share!”
    © 2003, cbs

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