African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Claude McKay, "To the White Fiends" (1918)

Think ye I am not fiend and savage too?
Think ye I could not arm me with a gun
And shoot down ten of you for every one
Of my black brothers murdered, burnt by you?
Be not deceived, for every deed ye do
I could match--out-match: am I not Afric's son,
Black of that black where black deeds are done?
But the Almighty from the darkness drew
My soul and said: Even thou shalt be a light
Awhile to burn on the benighted earth,
Thy dusky face I set among the white
For thee to prove thyself of highest worth;
Before the world is swallowed up in night,
To show thy little lamp; go forth! go forth!

Published in Pearson's, September 1918
Also published in The Liberator, September 1919

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