Tuesday, January 20, 2009

for inauguration day: Frederick Douglass by Christopher Clark and Robert Hayden

Frederick Douglass from Christopher Clark's Buy American seriesFrederick Douglass from Christopher Clark's Buy American series

I wanted to share this image and this poem for Inauguration Day. I have always loved Robert Hayden's historical poetry, and this one is very appropriate for this historic day.

Frederick Douglass
by Robert Hayden

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues' rhetoric,
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.

As we honor our first African-American President today, we must also remember people like Frederick Douglass, one of many champions of the abolition of slavery who laid the foundation for social change that Barack Obama now stands upon.

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