Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer
Injustice of the Courts Poem by Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer
Whites alone upon the jury in a number of the states,
Thus they crush a helpless Negro with their prejudicial hates;
Legal ills they thrust upon him, and the tale is passing sad—
Equal rights with white men? Never! Color-phobia makes them mad.
'Tis the training of the children, every Negro to suppress,
They their spleen may vent upon him and he happy, none the less,
They will boast aloud in anger if by Negroes they are crossed,
'If we shoot or kill a Negro, not a cent will be the cost.'
Juries represent the people and their sentiments make known,
When a Negro comes in question there's discrimination shown.
They are bold to make assertion that they will not do the same
For a Negro as a white man, and no feeling comes of shame.
Jurymen have made confession after trial had been made
Of a Negro, and 'He's guilty!' was the verdict there displayed.
Stern remorse so touched the conscience, they the story did relate,
How the verdict they had rendered was to stay the dying fate.
'It was hard to say him guilty, for the man, we thought, was clear.
But a mob was making clamors that were terrible to hear.'
'Punishment or death!' it shouted, and around began to press;
And of two impending evils, we have chosen him the less.
Thus we legalized the lynchers, we their words to court have brought,
And the innocent convicted! how revolting is the thought!
When a mob has forced a jury to a stand against the right,
All the waters of the ocean cannot make the conscience white.
Once a Negro girl was saucy, and the wife the husband told,
Who in haste arraigned the servant and began to swear and scold.
Then he whipped her without mercy—straightway she to law applied.
Passing strange—they found him guilty, and the judge was sorely tried.
This he said, in making sentence, 'No disfavor comes to you,
You have only done as others, or as I myself would do,
If your servants vex the mistress, thrash them out again, I say,
Go to jail ten minutes only, and a fine of five cents pay!'
If a judge is conscientious, then the people vote him out,
His partiality to white men they must know, beyond a doubt.
No equality for Negroes in the law the world must know,
If he fails to make distinctions, from the bench they'll have him go.
This injustice is a cancer, in the nation's breast it lives,
Quietly and unmolested, awful is the death it gives.
It results from color-phobia, which the God of right defies,
Slaves of prejudice, take warning! pause before the nation dies.
All the land is running riot, laws are trampled in the face,
Negroes must be law-abiding; whites alone the laws debase.
Wrong upon itself is coiling, hissing serpent of the times,
Whites in self-defense are crying, 'Shield us from our people's crimes.'
Barbarism fills the country, all for safety take alarm,
From the lowest to the highest, no one now is free from harm;
Anarchy is rife among us, all resulting from the same,
Gross injustice of the court-room brings the nation into shame.
Lawlessness is at a premium, woeful penalty it brings,
Relic of the middle ages is the present state of things.
To the winds we now are sowing, and the whirl-wind comes at length,
Evils cast upon the waters come again with added strength.
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