poem: poetic justice; shift America

poem: poetic justice;

shift America


in the racist Jim Crow era of lynchings,

after slavery and before segregation,

lived a young black women journalist

who wrote about the horrors of  lynchings

occurring in her hometown of Memphis


a rival, white racist male journalist

incited a mob against the young woman 

who destroyed her offices and presses

so that the threats against her 

drove her north to Chicago


the young woman went on to win renown

for her reporting on racism, and her work

as a suffragette and with the NAACP,

and her many other social justice 

and human rights efforts 


the white racist journalist and terrorist

went into politics and had so many enemies

he was shot dead in a feud on the streets of Nashville,

where the good ole white boy and girl network 

erected a statue of him in front of the state capitol


now over ninety years pass and this white

racist affront to every black person everywhere

is seen by every visitor to the capital 

of Tennessee including our youth,

our future community and political leaders


this statue of a white racist and terrorist

stands through the Civil Rights era, through

President Obama’s administration, through

the extra-judicial murder of black people

in the streets by racist police


until the brazenly, heinous murder of a black

man by a white policeman who placed his knee

on the hand-cuffed man’s neck with his full weight

for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he dies horrifically

before the eyes of America his breath cut off


protest erupts across the nation and the world

in righteous anger and soon in Nashville

that white racist statue is toppled off its’

base falling to the ground, damaged, and 

carted off by authorities


and “…. let justice roll down like waters

and righteousness like a mighty stream….”

we lament this blight upon this land,

this white supremacist evil lie, the statue

is toppled, let it never rise again


now come peoples of color, indigenous peoples,

white allies, from all cultures and nations,

reclaiming the capitol plaza from this  scourge,

renaming it Ida B. Wells Plaza for the People,

for this black woman journalist, the true hero


young black citizen activist, experienced in

the struggle, their cohorts and fellow protestors

occupy the spot and raise up Ida B. Wells for all to 

know across the land righting this old injustice of 

systemic white supremacy and all those complicit 


may this poetic justice sing and echo bringing

a long overdue shift in America to that of confession,

repentance, reparations, reconciliation, and the 

long hoped for fulfilling of the dream of freedom,

equality, and justice in authentic communities of

diversity and true belonging together as one peoples


Herb Stone

here&now working poetry

June 14, 2020


(Full disclosure: I am a white male, born into the 

privileges of white racism in the U.S. I confess and

repent the lie and sin of racism. I continue to learn

from people of color how to be an effective white ally.

I write this poem with a broken heart as I witness the 

ongoing personal and systemic white racism resulting

in the murders of siblings of color in the streets of

our communities across this land. I dedicate the poem

to the citizen activist currently occupying the plaza 

in front of the Tennessee State Capitol which they have

renamed Ida B. Well’s Plaza for the People. And to all

groups working non-violently, yet discomfortingly, to

shift the United States to finally more perfectly fulfill

it’s promise of liberty, equality, justice, and happiness

for all its’ citizens in diverse communities of authentic


images: Ida B. Wells, Tennessee State Museum

toppled statue, The Coloradoan

plaza sign, The Tennessean

poem: standing together in times of coming apart