African American Poetry (1870-1927): A Digital Anthology

H.T. Johnson, "The Black Man's Burden" (1904)

The Black Man's Burden.

Pile on the Black Man's Burden,
'Tis nearest at our door,
Why heed long bleeding Cuba
Or dark Hawaii's shore;
Halt ye your fearless armies
Which menace feeble folks,
Who fight with clubs and arrows
And brook your rifles' smoke.
Pile on the Black Man's Burden,
His wail with laughter drown,
You've sealed the Red Man's problem
And now deal with the Brown.
In vain you seek to end it
With bullet, blood or death,
Better by far defend it,
With honor's holy breath.
Pile on the Black Man's Burden,
His back is broad, though sore,
What though the weight oppress him
He's borne the like before;
Your Jim Crow laws and customs,
And fiendish midnight deed,
Though winked at by the nation
Will some day trouble breed.

Pile on the Black Man's Burden,
At length 'twill heaven pierce,
Then on you or your children
Will reign God's judgments fierce.
Your battleships and armies
May weaker ones appall,
But God Almighty's justice
They'll not disturb at all.


Published in Wings of Ebony1904

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