Forty-five short years ago

I sat at my TV

And in that grainy image,

I witnessed tyranny.

I saw the dogs and hoses

And the men at either end.

I was ashamed at what I witnessed

It seemed so un-American.

I thought about the patriots

who died for liberty

And those who’d given up

their lives to end their slavery.

After all that had been sacrificed,

was this how it would end?

That’s when I knew injustice,

when I was only 10.

Sunday morning children,

in their finest Sunday dress

Came to the very threshold,

of those who had oppressed.

They faced the dogs and hoses

on that bright and fateful day

Made themselves a sacrifice,

atonement they would pay.

I thought about the sailors

who died on board the Maine

And I thought about the doughboys

on the fields of France were slain.

After all that had been sacrificed,

was this how it would end?

That’s when I learned what courage was, when I was only 10.

Today our world trembles

from the burden of its hate

Would those who’d sacrificed

their lives and spirits vindicate.

Everywhere are people crying,

“Someone set us free”

So we can reap the promises

of life and liberty.

I thought about our fathers,

who vanquished Nazi hoards

I thought about our mothers

who were left to man the homes.

And I think about my brothers,

who died in Vietnam

And I think about those

children, as sacrificial lambs.

Forty-five short years ago I

would have never believed

A black man could be president

and lead us to be free.

From war and hate and prejudice,

from tyranny and greed

As those Sunday morning children did

… on the black-and- white TV.

Workers Words column

from Jan.-Feb. 2009 Solidarity,

the magazine for UAW members

and families.

By John Delcamp, UAW Local 735, Ypsilanti, Mich.