28th of August

Summer…
Hot, humid, sweaty August.  Washington,
D.C., ‘63
In busses we came
From everywhere it seemed.

Busses with windows
Double hung
Able to be opened
Breezes only while moving
Stale, still air when stopped

We sat peacefully
Side-by-side, mixing our colors.
Perspiration, powdered noses, perfumes.
Most men in white, women in dresses
Hats for fans, fans for hats

Long rides from everywhere
Going somewhere… important
Gathering, willing to walk
Forward, to the promised land.  To
Someday in the future – if we acted now.

No, not some few of us
Not hundreds
even thousands
But hundreds of thousands – a quarter million. 
Every one of us, Americans.  Think about that.

Moving in the heat and humidity of the Capital
To the great mall
Carrying signs for jobs, for equality, for fairness
For an end to police brutality.
60 years later, still carrying signs…

Workers, teachers, union members
One body
One voice
One cry in this wilderness
Waiting on one man

He spoke, we listened
The world listened
Became of one mind
“I Have a Dream” becoming – 
We have a dream

One year later
The Civil Rights Act
Another year after
The Voting Rights Act
Yet still, still now we dream

60 years later
Less one day
Three black people
Shot dead in a Jacksonville store.
On Sunday!  Is no day sacred? 

No, no day is sacred
No day is safe
From the stinking sweat of hate, of violence
Quarter million starting to bend that moral arc
Yet, the Universe and Justice still wait on us

JL Grady
28 August 2023