TCS: The Starless Midnight and the Bright Daybreak

. Good Morning!

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Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

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Justice in the life and conduct of the State
is possible only as first it resides in the
hearts and souls of the citizens.

– Plato

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Today in the United States is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday on the third Monday of January since 1986. The holiday was not acknowledged in all 50 states until the year 2000.

In 2020, the state of Virginia finally eliminated Lee & Jackson Day, which was originally combined with Martin Luther King Day

In Alabama and Mississippi, it is still Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King Birthday
(Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 – Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807).

Martin Luther King Jr (1929-1968) was the world-renowned leader of the non-violent branch of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. 

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) was the commander of the Confederate States Army and the Army of Northern Virginia in the rebellion against the United States government over slavery known as the American Civil War.

Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson (1824-1863) was born on January 21. He was also a Confederate General from Virginia, who died of his wounds and pneumonia, eight days after being mistaken for a Union officer and shot by Confederate infantrymen from North Carolina.

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I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to
the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak
of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality . . . I believe
that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

 – Martin Luther King Jr.


Martin Luther King Jr.

by Gwendolyn Brooks

A man went forth with gifts.
He was a prose poem.

He was a tragic grace.
He was a warm music.

He tried to heal the vivid volcanoes.
His ashes are
reading the world.
His Dream still wishes to anoint
the barricades of faith and of control.

His word still burns the center of the sun,
above the thousands and the
hundred thousands.
The word was Justice. It was spoken.
So it shall be spoken.

So it shall be done.


“Martin Luther King Jr” © 1969 by Gwendolyn Brooks from 60 on the 60s, Ashland Poetry Press

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Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced,
where ignorance prevails, and where any one class
is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy
to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons
nor property will be safe.

– Frederick Douglass


Justice

by Langston Hughes

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.


“Justice”  from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes –Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

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There comes a time when people get tired
of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight
of life’s July and left standing amid the
piercing chill of an alpine November.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.


A Litany for Survival

by Audre Lorde

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive.


“A Litany for Survival.” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde,  © 1997 by the Audre Lorde Estate –  W. W. Norton & Company
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We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like
waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.


Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!


“Let America Be America Again” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes –Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

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I have a dream that my four little children will one day
live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color
of their skin but by the content of their character.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.


Harlem

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?


“Harlem” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes –Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

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I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of
the difficulties and frustrations of the moment,
I still have a dream.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.


I, Too

by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.


“I, Too” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes –Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

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Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) is one of the most influential and widely read African American poets of the 20th century. She was the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize (for poetry, in 1950), and the first black woman Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1985–1986).

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was born in Joplin Missouri. After working his way to Europe as a ship’s crewman, he spent time in Paris and London, then returned to the states, spending time in Washington DC, where he met Vachel Lindsay, who helped him gain recognition. Hughes became one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was an American writer, poet, feminist, lesbian, librarian, and civil rights activist. She was born in New York City, the daughter of a father from Barbados, and a mother from Grenada. Her poems and prose largely deal with issues related to civil rights, women, and the exploration of black female identity. She became an associate of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press in 1977, and a co-founder of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1980. She survived breast cancer in 1978, but died at age 58 of liver cancer in 1992.

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About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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3 Responses to TCS: The Starless Midnight and the Bright Daybreak

  1. Wonderful selections for MLK Day!

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