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

Maurice Corbett, "White Friends" (1914)

White Friends.

Soon with these Negro giants stood
White men of honor, brave and good,
Determined, zealous in the cause
Of human rights; not for applause
Of fickle men, not for reward
Or tempting gold; but they abhorred
Of men in chains the very thought,
Driven like beasts, and sold, and bought.

Few were the numbers they could boast
When firm they stood at duty's post,
Where every act was criticized
And they by friends were ostracized;
But firmer grew they in the cause,
And harder fought to change the laws,
So that America would be
In truth, "The land of liberty."

Good Lundy battled through the press
Against this form of wickedness;
Old Greely sang the self same tune
Through his great organ—"The Tribune,"
But agitators, there were none,
That equaled William Lloyd Garrison,
Who, by his enemies was mobbed,
His papers burned, his office robbed.

By percutors sent to jail,
But not a moment did he quail,
Nor from his former purpose swerve,
But with a hero's grit and nerve
Dared he to wrestle with disgrace,
And loss of prestige with his race,
If by so doing he could see
All black men set at liberty.

The other champions of the race
Were Wendall Philips, Seward, Chase,
Thaddeus Stephens, Cassius M. Clay
And dear Charles Sumner, whose display
Of oratory, facts, and zeal
Soon battered down the cherished shield
Used by slave owners in their fight
To prove in slaves, inherent right.

Slavery received its saddest blow
From the pen of Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Who taught the world to see aright
How slavery was the nation's blight,
While on the cruel overseer
Her censuring was most severe,
And Negro traders, heartless, mean,
Immoral vultures, first were seen.

She showed how men were bought and sold
To satisfy the lust for gold.
And on a lofty plane she stood
And taught the common brotherhood
Of man and fatherhood of God,
And that the stern, unswerving rod
Of Justice, would afflict the land
Should the walls of human slavery stand.

Her book, "Cabin of Uncle Tom,"
From Southern men, produced a storm
Of protest, while to people North,
Those well directed lines set forth
The shameful, baneful, blighting sin,
Of ownership of other men,
Till the nation's sinking pulse was roused
To see the bondsman's cause espoused.

Published in The Harp of Ethiopia, 1914

This page has tags: