The words of Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King
Are challenges as yet unmet, although today they ring
Across America in gatherings and on TV.
“All men…created equal,” is a “dream” we’ve yet to see. (1) (2)
And Emma Lazarus once wrote, “Give me your tired, your poor,
“Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” our open door (3)
And open arms await. But, now might white supremacy
Just slam that door on all except Trump’s meritocracy?
And what has merit for the Donald? Money, that’s the key.
Just how one gets his money, Trump is not too finicky.
But physics, chemistry, biology, and jazz and blues,
In short, the arts and science are not things that he can use.
Trump does not donate money to the arts or charity.
And how much has he given to his university?
I mean, U. Penn, and not the scam, that used to bear his name.
But to his alma mater: education, arts, the same. (4)
“I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do,” (5)
Is how James Baldwin shames us and his words are clearly true.
Though Donald signed a proclamation for MLK Day,
Will he attend commemorations? No, not one today.
Walt Kelly has his Pogo say, “We’ve met the enemy
“And he is us.” To make dreams real falls right on you and me. (6)
So, will we rise above, “Me first?” (That means our country, too.)
We’re all in this together. Now, will we make our words true?
Although it’s often treated as a black folks’ holiday.
It’s one we all must share, the legacy of MLK.
Don’t play golf like the President; serve others; open doors.
And scrub away racism that still oozes from our pores.
- Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence.
- Martin Luther King, “I have a dream…” speech, Washington DC, 1963
- Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,” 1883
- John Cassidy, New Yorker Magazine, September 24, 2016
- James Baldwin, cited by David Leonhardt, New York Times, Jan. 15, 2018
- Walt Kelly, Pogo comic strip, Earth Day, 1971.