by Marcus B. Christian
I helped to build this great America --
Started her up from rude huts
Thrown down in the midst of wildernesses.
I beat back those wildernesses,
Dared the ever-advancing forests,
Plowed and planted,
Hoed and harvested,
To feed her weak and disheartened colonists,
Besieged by fear and Indians.
I helped to build this great America;
I watched her shore-line creep
From Maine to Massachusetts
And tidewater Virginia
Down through the Carolinas
To the Florida Everglades.
I fought Indians, Redcoats
And the stony, barren soil of New England;
I tilled the great Virginia estates --
The homes of Presidents;
I sang in the rice-fields of Georgia and the Carolinas;
Toiled in the swamps and on the sugar and cotton plantations
of Louisiana and Mississippi,
While the bull-whip of the overseer
Zigzagged like black lightning about my head
And cracked like the thunder of doom.
As I bowed down
In tobacco-fields, rice-fields, corn-fields
I sang so sweetly
That America believed me happy.
Then, gathering about her the airs of a Democracy,
She stretched forth welcome hands
mTo the dispossessed millions of Europe:
The Irish, German, West End Englishman, Italian,
Frenchman, Spaniard, Portuguese, Slovak, Pole,
Jew and Armenian, saying:
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-
laden, and I will give you rest."
But I toiled on.
I toiled on until honest men could stand the sight
Of my black back, bleeding and raw,
mBowed down in humble, earth-kissed supplication
Before the Gods of Greed.
And then, at last, contending streams of blood,
Merging, made closer this great land of ours.
I saved America from discord.
I caught the flying javelins of hate against my
Keeping them free of the Catholic and Protestant,
Republican and Democrat,
Irish and German,
Blonde and Brunette,
Native and Alien Stock,
Pilgrim and Puritan.
The fear of me made all men cease their bickerings
And I became the scapegoat of the nation.
In times of stresses, wars and blasting storms,
This one thing I shall evermore remember:
That all of the strength and the blood and the
sweat of me --
That all of my longings, my sorrows, my hopes
and my joys
Went into making this great land of ours;
That this is my land by the right of both God and
of man --
That this is my land, wet with my own life's
That it is enriched with the flesh and the bones
of my fathers --
That this land is mine, grown big through my
pain and sufferings;
That all I am today and ever shall be
Lies deeply buried in her plains and valleys,
Swamps, hills and mountains,
Meadows, lakes and streams.
I shall forever be a part of her
And she will always be a part of me.
Last updated November 13, 2022