A poem about the painful past, troubled present and hopeful future of American democracy.
Strange Fruit on Protest Road
Nooses once hung in trees,
a reminder of what used to be.
Men were “boys”, said “Yes, Mam, please”.
To find a safe alley, a sigh of relief.
Being black, you learn your place.
Cross the street, smile nice, don’t bait.
You find your own kind,
gives everyone peace of mind.
Then freedom folks came along,
showing you a better way.
Civil rights have been trampled on.
Time to show this world, laws are wrong.
A King once led people in civil unrest,
words of wisdom about nonviolent protest.
We all remember that April 4th day,
A man filled with hate just blew him away.
From the vaults of despair,
people found shreds of hopes and dreams.
As blacks marched with pride,
whites screaming, spitting on each side.
That was over fifty years ago,
Things have changed, I thought.
A white woman, I didn’t see the drought.
Lack of opportunities, stunted growth.
The violence of those white ghosts,
has been handed down, father to son
Taught by offices to serve and protect.
All a ruse of systemic racial neglect.
One thing I know that has not changed
burning of buildings; churches or shops,
hurting others, looting or killing cops.
won’t give life back to those we lost.
Can hate be taken from a heart?
Tools of righteous love is a start.
Put a mirror over an enemy
Suddenly that person is me.
A revolution is in the air,
it won't stop until people care.
Voices scream to be heard.
"Law and Order"; now fighting words.
Imagine a vast rainbow of human beings.
A sanctuary to dig up ugly unsaid things.
Everyone decides how laws should stand.
Equal treatment throughout our land.
I still believe in hope for human kind.
Healing where Lady Liberty is not blind.
America can still stand for living free,
all people from sea to shining sea.
By Kathie Stehr
Edited August 9, 2020
"Strange Fruit" is a song by Billie Holliday about black men and women that were lynched and hung from trees. She couldn't say those words in the 1930's or 1940's so she sang about strange fruit hanging from trees in the South. We have such a sad and desperate past as far as African Americans go.