A Dream Deferred

by Kasey Shultz

College Students Across the Country Stand in Solidarity with Mizzou” –Huffington Post

A Dream Deferred
Empty classrooms amid fear of violence
Tent cities and hunger strikes,
Fists raised in anger, defiance
Fighting for the right to be seen,
The right to be heard,
The right to learn without planning escape routes,
The right to walk down the sidewalk
Without that constant knot of fear,
An exhausting shell of strength
In the face of taunts, stares, threats.

We trace the paths of MLK,
His words creeping up through the ground,
Intertwining with the metal birds, captured in mid flight,
Straining for a freedom we can only dream of.
The Negro is still not free
One hundred fifty years since Emancipation
Still crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination
Fifty years since Civil Rights
A lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity
Eight years since post-racial America
And yet here we are
Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content
Will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual
They point to laws, athletes, TV shows, presidents,
Reprimanding us for our dissatisfaction
We will never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim
Of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality
They spread rumors, appealing to fear,
Citing riots, thugs, overreaction, escalation
We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied
Until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream”
We stand up with our bodies,
We cannot walk alone
Clasp hands to stop them from shaking,
We cannot turn back
Link arms to keep from collapsing
Beneath so much hatred and fear and pain.
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
Sticks and stones can’t compare to the words
That worm their way into the hollow of your chest,
Threatening your life, your health, your faith in humanity
A violation that keeps you up at night.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Missouri,
A state sweltering with the heat of injustice,
Sweltering with the heat of oppression,
Will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice
We are tired of dreaming of a day that hasn’t come
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
We are tired of being told these things take time
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation
Into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood
We are tired of sitting on the sidelines,
Keeping quiet, being patient,
Waiting for the dream to arrive.
With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together,
To struggle together, to go to jail together,
To stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day

We are tired of a world where ‘one day’ is not today
From every mountainside, let freedom ring
So we are standing now
Let it ring from every village and every hamlet
From every state and every city
In protest and solidarity.
Join hands and sing
To those who would threaten
All of God’s children
We are watching.

#InSolidarityWithMizzou

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