“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

In these deceitful days of hate,
Where minds are waking up too late,
No twisted tongue will ever sing
The song of Martin Luther King.
His music dwindled, almost died,
The day despotic demons lied
That characters are judged and weighed
Not on their content, but their shade.

All traits and fates, they say, begin
With skin each person’s born within.
All heartfelt thoughts are cast aside;
The spirit of each soul’s denied.
Now those, once blind to black and white,
Are fueled by malice, fired by spite.
Divisive ideology
Has killed King’s dream of harmony…

Or has it? Has it gone for good?
Perhaps we could—perhaps we should
Stand together, stand as one
In brotherhood beneath our sun,
And heed the words of this great man—
Accept what’s fixed, change what we can.
Let’s celebrate the human race
With love and joy and care and grace…

Let We the People join and sing
The song of Martin Luther King!

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With thanks to my husband Mike for his inspiration and encouragement.

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Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas.  Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).


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30 Responses

  1. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, a most moving poem for these troubled times and thank you for the heads up to read a little more of Mr. King. I didn’t realise that there was a massive people’s March on Washington in 1968 with the White House guarded by 20,000 troops. I guess history will often repeat itself. I love the optimism of verse 3 and let’s all hope for a more peaceful time to come. Thank you, again, for another gem.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thank you very much for your comment. I don’t know too much about MLK Jr., and I’m sure those living here in America who witnessed these times will have a far better understanding of this period in history. What I do know is, when it comes to observations on the color of skin, his words make complete sense to me.

      Reply
  2. C.B. Anderson

    Oh, Susan. Your poem makes me think of all the persons in Congress and in other institutions who desperately hope that we will NOT judge them by the content of their character.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., I couldn’t agree more. In these hypocritical days of identity politics, President-Select, Joe Biden, as a rich, white, toxic male sex predator is surely not a good advert for the cause.

      Reply
  3. A.B. Brown

    Thanks for this, Susan. A sad thing that the people who claim to be MLK’s heirs are really traitorous usurpers.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mr. Brown, you are absolutely right. How on earth can those who claim to love MLK Jr., those who have taken a day off in his honor, support Critical Race Theory? The mind boggles.

      Reply
  4. BRIAN YAPKO

    A wonderful poem, Susan, which successfully tackles some really difficult concepts. You leave me pondering the legacy of “divisive ideology” and what harm is yet to come in the name of what is called “social justice” but which strikes me as a new and insidious form of racism in which blindness to color is disparaged. I think you’re right. MLK would have preferred that we look into each other’s souls rather than obsess on skin shade.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, thank you very much for your astute comment and for highlighting with clarity exactly what I was trying to get across in my poem. I am certain Mr. King would be shocked at how far back our current politics have set his vision for humankind.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, I am thrilled to receive your comment. This poem may look simple, but it was one of the hardest ones I have written, and I thoroughly appreciate your encouraging words.

      Reply
  5. Jason Dain

    I always look forward to Susan’s contributions.
    I struggle with occasional lines because they are worth the reward of finding how to phrase them. Lines 14-16 continue the beautiful rhythm: but one is struggle, the next WONDERFUL 8 syllables in 2 words, and the three lines together comprise the seed for the whole poem. I am sorry I haven’t expressed this very well.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jason, it’s always good to hear from you. Thank you for your wonderful and informative comment. This poem was written and posted to the society yesterday. I think this poet benefits from separating herself from her newly written pieces for a couple of days to return with a fresh eye and tidy up any problems… I will be doing this soon. With much gratitude, as ever.

      Reply
  6. Jeff Kemper

    Very well done. I just posted on FB about some of these same dour realities expressed in the first two stanzas and thought of rewriting my thoughts as a poem but you already did it. I’m inspired by your optimism.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thank you for dropping by and commenting. I have gone through pains to produce this poem, and, at first it ended with no hope in sight… but, then, as my husband quite rightly pointed out, we don’t have to believe and repeat everything the state tells us about identity. Perhaps my words may encourage others to join me in discarding the insidious idiocy we’re expected to swallow these days… you never know, more people may start working out that it’s not their neighbor who is the enemy.

      Reply
  7. Mike Bryant

    “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
    — Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Reply
  8. C.B. Anderson

    That, Susan, was a nice chiasmus I had never heard before. You are unsinkable, while I merely tread water.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., it’s very naughty to tell porkies. You, merely treading water… never!

      Reply
  9. Jerilyn Nash

    I Love your poetry and your sentiments. Thank you again for a wonderfully encouraging view in these troubled times.

    Reply
    • Jerilyn Nash

      Susan, may I post this poem on another social site (Nextdoor), giving full credit, of course? There is a thread dedicated to Dr. King’s birthday and I’d Love to include it if you don’t mind. If there is some reason you don’t want me to, however, I will certainly abide by your wishes!

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        … and yes, you can certainly post my poem on the site you’ve mentioned… thank you for asking.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Jerilyn – I’m glad my poem may lift spirits… we certainly need a bit of spirit-lifting energy in these mournful and melancholic times.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, thank you for your observation. Justice will never die, you’re right. But, it all depends from which perspective you’re looking. The government is not my ideal, I don’t expect them to be just… I’m looking to a much higher realm for justice. That’s why I’m smiling on this Inauguration Day.

      Reply
      • Norma Okun

        Yes Susan, it is that lilac that Whitman wrote about blooming in the dooryard
        “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d” It is what made my heart glad as the body of Lincoln was in a hearse. As many who have been gun down without a gun. I still think the lilacs do them justice.

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