(It is a little-known fact that 200,000 Negroes fought
for freedom in the Union Army during the Civil War.)
In this green month when resurrected flowers,
Like laughing children ignorant of death,
Brighten the couch of those who wake no more,
Love and remembrance blossom in our hearts
For you who bore the extreme sharp pang for us,
And bought our freedom with your lives.
Honoring your memory, with love we bring
These fiery roses, white-hot cotton flowers
And violets bluer than cool northern skies
You dreamed of stooped in burning prison fields
When liberty was only a faint north star,
Not a bright flower planted by your hands
Reaching up hardy nourished with your blood.
Fit gravefellows you are for Douglass, Brown,
Turner and Truth and Tubman . . . whose rapt eyes
Fashioned a new world in this wilderness.
American earth is richer for your bones:
Our hearts beat prouder for the blood we inherit.
From Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall, edited by Melba Joyce Boyd © 2009 by Dudley Randall. Reprinted with permission of the editor.