Verse > Anthologies > James Weldon Johnson, ed. > The Book of American Negro Poetry
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James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938).  The Book of American Negro Poetry.  1922.
 
At the Closed Gate of Justice
 
James D. Corrothers
 
 
TO be a Negro in a day like this
  Demands forgiveness. Bruised with blow on blow,
Betrayed, like him whose woe dimmed eyes gave bliss
  Still must one succor those who brought one low,
To be a Negro in a day like this.        5
 
To be a Negro in a day like this
  Demands rare patience—patience that can wait
In utter darkness. ’Tis the path to miss,
  And knock, unheeded, at an iron gate,
To be a Negro in a day like this.        10
 
To be a Negro in a day like this
  Demands strange loyalty. We serve a flag
Which is to us white freedom’s emphasis.
  Ah! one must love when Truth and Justice lag,
To be a Negro in a day like this.        15
 
To be a Negro in a day like this—
  Alas! Lord God, what evil have we done?
Still shines the gate, all gold and amethyst,
  But I pass by, the glorious goal unwon,
“Merely a Negro”—in a day like this!        20
 

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