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Poetic Justice

The Jamaican-American poet Claude McKay (1889-1948), was a leading voice of the Harlem Renaissance. All of his poems are well worth reading, but today I’d like to highlight one that has helped to calm my mind in recent days.

You see, some anti-union thugs have taken the trouble to try and dissuade me, and some friends of mine,  from our activism– through some calculated acts of violence and vandalism.  The whole ugly situation is far too distressing to discuss here on the public internets.

Yet, thankfully, this morning I was reminded of this Claude McKay poem by a dear friend, and it made me feel much better.  The poem is entitled: If We Must Die

  If we must die, let it not be like hogs

Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,

While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,

Making their mock at our accursed lot.

If we must die, O let us nobly die,

So that our precious blood may not be shed

In vain; then even the monsters we defy

Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!

O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!

Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,

And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!

What though before us lies the open grave?

Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,

Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!


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Let us take courage from the words of brother Claude McKay. There is no need to whimper in the corner, oppressed by fear. Now is the moment to rise up, fight back, and resist without compromise, no matter what the personal cost.

Know Justice, Know Peace. No Justice, No Peace. No War but Class War…

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