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

Sarah Collins Fernandis, "The Torch Bearer" (1916)

Up from the portals dark of slavery's night
The dusky, untried youth, emerging, came,
His feet set to the trail, his heart aflame
With a great purpose. He would reach the light
Outheld by Freedom; for his needy race 
Would touch his torch, and bear it forth to teach 
And lead to higher standards, till they rose to reach
The plane where Progress needs must give them place.

Ah, woe for us, the once uplifted hand
Lifes nerveless; that a hush the world can feel
Reigns, where, erstwhile, a voice with strong appeal
Rang out for racial justice in our land.
O Washington, thy light we ill can spare,
Or thy great leadership, thy strength, the grace
Of thy rich life given to uplift thy race
With self-effacement and acheivement rare. 

Published in The Southern Workman, January 1916

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