Black Mammies

If Ah evah git to glory, an’ Ah hope to mek it thoo,
Ah expec’ to hyah a story, an’ Ah hope you’ll hyah it, too—
Hit’ll kiver Maine to Texas, an’ f’om Bosting to Miami—
Ov de highes’ shaf in glory, ’rected to de Negro Mammy.

You will see a lot o’ Washington, an’ Washington again;
An’ good ol’ Fathah Lincoln, tow’rin’ ’bove de rest o’ men;
But dar’ll be a bunch o’ women standin’ hard up by de th’one,
An’ dey’ll all be black an’ homely—’less de Virgin Mary’s one.

Dey will be de talk of angels, dey will be de praise o’ men,
An’ de whi’ folks would go crazy ’thout their Mammy folks again:
If it’s r’ally true dat meekness makes you heir to all de eart’,
Den our blessed, good ol’ Mammies must ’a’ been of noble birt’.

If de greates’ is de servant, den Ah got to say o’ dem,
Dey’ll be standin’ nex’ to Jesus, sub to no one else but Him;
If de crown goes to de fait’ful, an’ de palm de victors wear,
Dey’ll be loaded down wid jewels more dan anybody dere.

She’d de hardes’ road to trabel evah mortal had to pull;
But she knelt down in huh cabin till huh cup o’ joy was full;
Dough ol’ Satan tried to shake huh fom huh knees wid scowl an’ frown,
She jes’ “clumb up Jacob’s ladder,” an’ he nevah drug huh down.

She’d jes’ croon above de babies, she’d jes’ sing when t’ings went wrong,
An’ no matter what de trouble, she would meet it wid a song;
She jes’ prayed huh way to heaben, findin’ comfort in de rod;
She jes’ “stole away to Jesus,” she jes’ sung huh way to God!

She “kep’ lookin’ ovah Jurdan,” kep’ “a-trustin’ in de word,”
Kep’ a-lookin’ fo “de char’et,” kep’ “a-waitin’ fo’ de Lawd,”
If she evah had a quavah of de shadder of a doubt,
It ain’t nevah been discovahed, fo’ she nevah sung it out;

But she trusted in de shadder, an’ she trusted in de shine,
An’ she longed fo’ one possession: “dat heaben to be mine”;
An’ she prayed huh chil’en freedom, but she won huhse’f de bes’,—
Peace on eart’ amids’ huh sorrows, an’ up yonder heavenly res’!


From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.