Trayvon Martin: Another dead kid

3 years ago

Art: Shepard Fairey

As we reflect upon the controversial not-guilty verdict levied by the jury in the George Zimmerman case, these searing words by poet Langston Hughes seem more appropriate than ever, especially in a country where guns kills twice as many children as cancer. Have a read:

Kids Who Die

By Langston Hughes

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
Your are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.


RYOT NOTE: What a beautiful — and suddenly relevant — poem. Langston Hughes is somehow able to shed his eloquent wisdom on a nation plagued with gun violence and racial tensions with a poem written decades ago. Amazing. Obviously, many of you are frustrated with the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Hopefully this poem is the beginning of some real inspiration that pushes you to do something about those feelings. We suggest signing the NAACP’s petition asking Eric Holder to indict George Zimmerman on civil rights charges. Click on the gray box alongside this story to sign the petition and Become the News!

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