One country, two Americas
One person, two dollars for few,
One dollar, two people for many.
America fought for rights two centuries ago
Now a new battle arises
Instead of dirt roads, urban avenues
Instead of muskets, picket signs
Instead of Lexington, Selma
Instead of backing down, try again,
Instead of six hundred, try twenty-five thousand.
Another battle for democracy, for equality, for freedom
New Founding Fathers stand up
King, Malcolm, Parks take the place of Washington, Revere, Hancock
The reiteration, reemphasis, of “All men are created equal.”
A letter from jail to remind people.
A boycott to prove people,
A song to unite people.
But the fight for freedom was no simple protest.
It was a war, sometimes fought like a war.
Sometimes graves were filled like it was a war,
Sometimes people lost control.
During this war the Watts Riot
Left a stain of red on dotted canvas.
A sea of nonviolent protest disturbed by waves of violence.
A war not just for rights but for acceptance.
To make sure there were no more Emmett Tills.
Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, took a different approach.
A different approach from the March on Washington, the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The Black Panthers were condemned for the violence
And Martin Luther King Jr. won a Peace Prize
But maybe it was the Panthers determination, desperation
That were more effective than King’s composure.
Maybe it was a balance between peaceful protest and Black Power.
“Whatever it was, it worked.”
There have been so many Emmett Tills.
Rodney, Trayvon, Eric. Not the faces of the past
But the faces of the present.
We still fight the same fight
For equality under the law, an end to discrimination.
Maybe it’s not possible, but that does not mean we should give up.
So the faces of the future don’t have to fear.
We shall overcome,
By Soren Gran
Soren Gran is a junior at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio. For his school, he plays soccer, writes for the newspaper, and participates in extracurricular organizations including Latin club and Academic Challenge team. He enjoys traveling. Last summer, he participated in a State Department program through which he visited Singapore and Malaysia.
Art by Fangjun “Kay” Qu