To Luis Gregory

My childhood was a Disney dream, stardust in my eyes.
Sleeping through it all on a canopy bed of lies.
They said don’t look, you mustn’t see the color in our lives,
Not wanting to explain a taxing fact that they despised.

The schooling was the same, an avoidance of the truth.
Why burden with incongruities these aspiring youth?
Then one day on my own privileged back I felt the lash.
A soul awakening that stings and festers, does not pass.

What a privilege to be born in the land of the free.
To grow up with the best K-12 education guaranteed.
Vaccinations, transportation, supermarkets overflowing,
Non-stop sports and entertainment, our options ever growing.

Armed forces to protect us, our allies well aligned.
Freedom to express ourselves, our rights clearly defined.
Our precious liberty grants independence to pursue
Whatever dream, whichever means, the limitations few.

Freedom to ride a bus with my fellow man, but wait,
Freedom to burn that bus, the people still inside.
Freedom to worship as we please, but Dear God, what is this?
Freedom to let bullets fly, smoke out their gospel bliss.

Freedom to elect those who will keep the status quo.
Freedom to assure systemic evil is maintained.
Freedom to participate in markets that promote
The poverty that keeps one race efficiently enchained.

Freedom is a track that can be tricky and misleading.
If you lose your bearings you condemn yourself to lies.
If you choose the righteous path you could become the means
Of saving cataleptic souls from spiritual demise.

Only one among us had the vision to select
An untried jungle trail that led to full-scale liberty.
It’s the path we follow now, but still most timidly.
The standard-bearer, pioneer – Louis George Gregory.

You struggled to become an instrument of truth
Against all odds and chose the Blessed Beauty as your guide
Which left you quite alone, no friends on either side.
So few of your associates could comprehend your lack of pride.

Puzzled by your patience, your good humor, dignity,
Your unshakable conviction that there would be unity.
Hostility a foreign trait your noble stance precludes,
You urged them to examine their apartheid attitudes.

Marking unknown depths on a wild, tempestuous sea.
You proved yourself the touchstone of a new reality.
This vessel has no owner, no passengers aboard.
All are crew and must assure the ship gets safe to shore.2

Not a question of our class or caste or even of our color.
Just one pigment now, that of the crimson heart we share.
You put your genuine concern for the welfare of your people
In a universal context, no small allegiance could compare.

So many years have passed and still we have not replied
Sufficiently, to remedy this aching, raw divide.
How to stop the flow of blood, allay the mutiny?
Black leaders to defuse our accountability?

We had a King who tried to lead us to a better dream.
We had a President so eloquent, refined and graced.
Yet there is no redemption, no matter who our leaders be.
No way to reconcile the past, it cannot be erased.

Like chattel they were bought and sold, enchained pitilessly
Then thousands lynched while roving mobs of terrorists went free.
Millions more entrapped in post-war revanchist rule.
How can we ever reconcile a history so cruel?

From oppressors, heartfelt tears, absolute humility,
So that the oppressed might pity us and grant us clemency.
Yet tears are not enough, a battle must be fought
For universal education, our oneness must be taught.

Interracial marriage must be the norm not the exception
Till families are fused by an intimate connection.
No distrust, no social rank, no cowardly rejection
Till neighborhoods can celebrate their multi-hued confection.

Our complacency is not the only thing we need to change.
Justice must be done, official privileges dismantled.
The bootstrap myth debunked, the safety nets replaced.
A system void of preferences will never be disgraced.

Louis, your example in every detail of your life
Was the way to move beyond, unite the races into one.
You even took a total opposite to be your wife.
You knew the answer to our plight was that His will be done.

Submission, not to any race or claimed supremacy,
But to the Master who Himself appointed you to be
The catalyst that would make us even as one soul.
To help us reach our destiny, world unity our goal.