Tagged poem

The End of Gabriel’s Tale

Read the beginning of Gabriel’s tale.

Gabriel, the Civil Rights Lawyer’s Tale

III. The Appeal

“At Ed Johnson’s father’s behest,
Two black lawyers took his request
Parden knew they would be threatened
His prosperous practice destroyed.
But Parden was a Christian man,
He prayed to his God for wisdom.
Pardon agreed to bear the cross,
It did not matter what the cost.

If it meant his violent demise,
The lawyer would not compromise.
When the attorneys tried to file
A motion for a new trial,
Judge McReynolds demanded they wait.
The next day the judge said they were too late.
The judge tried to block their appeal,

By disparaging their zeal,
Their arrogance to think they knew
As much as the white man in his view.
But the lawyers filed an appeal,
Refusing to buckle and kneel.
The state high court upheld the court’s decisions
So to the federal court they petitioned.
Charging due process violations.
Enshrined in U.S. Constitution.

Ed had rights to a trial that was fair,
Not one held in an inflamed air.
A mob tried to attack the jail,
The trial court in its role did fail.
Lawyers had no time to prepare,
The trial venue was unfair,
Non-white jurors were excluded,
Judge and prosecutor colluded.

Ed Johnson was forced to confess
By torture and under duress.
The temper of a juror flared,
A mistrial should have been declared.
Here on earth the laws made by men.
Are only as good as the men.
Parden’s home was threatened with fire.
Thugs sprayed his house with gunfire.

People – black and white – saw Ed Johnson
Well wishers whose hearts he had won.
Those friends were the children of God,
And a trickle became a flood.
Two days before the date of his death,
Ed was given one last request.
He asked to attend church service.
To thank the Lord for His good grace.

Three hundred made the pilgrimage to jail.
Even in jail God’s love prevails
The courtyard of the jail was filled,
Into the lobby the believers spilled.
The special congregation sang hymns,
Read biblical scriptures and psalms.
After singing the Sweet Bye and Bye,
Ed declared “I’m ready to die.”

Young Ed Johnson had been transformed
By his faith in God, he was reborn
All his hatred was swept away
Tomorrow would be judgment day.
He asked that Miss Taylor be healed
That the Lord’s love be revealed.
We are all the children of God.
He had faith in the power of God.

He denied he was guilty again.
He repeated “I am not that man.”
At service end, he was baptized.
And by his faith his soul was saved.
By purity of righteous heart,
He would enter the narrow gate.

The federal judge denied their petition,
Citing lack of federal jurisdiction.
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was made,
Powerful forces came to their aid.
Their voices were heard from on high.
Justice Harlan listened with an open mind.
The astute hand of providence
Gave Ed Johnson a final chance.

The great dissenter stayed execution.
To decide Ed’s rights under the Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court would hear the case.
And its specified time and place.”

IV. The Lynch Mob

“But injustice would blight the land.
Public officials had other plans.
Upon receipt of the high court order,
Sheriff Shipp stripped the jail of jailers.
And moved all the other prisoners,
Leaving Ed to the murderers
Hundreds of townsfolk stormed the jail,
Bent on seeing mob justice prevail.

Judge McReynolds watched from the courthouse,
As the mob descended upon the jailhouse,
Sheriff Shipp abandoned his post.
Ignoring his duty to the utmost.
Police officers led the violent mob,
Law and order supposedly their job.
A white minister called the police.
Demanding a stop to the mob’s caprice.

His lone voice in the wilderness.
An unanswered plea for justice.
The mob led the lone defendant
In a procession malevolent,
The lynch mob seemed to go berserk,
And lynched Ed Johnson on the trestlework
Of the Walnut Street Bridge
Ed kept his dignity to the end.

Johnson proclaimed his innocence
Blessed his enemies’ insolence.
For two minutes, his legs danced in the air
As the mobs and onlookers stared.
Vigilantes began shooting.
A bullet cut the rope, his body falling,
Ed was still moving but nearly dead.
One man shot five bullets into his head.

An old black woman waded through the crowd.
“Is he dead, white folks?” she said aloud.
When a man said yes, she eyed with a dare,
In defiant reply, she said “Well, I swear.”
As she turned her back and left from the line,
One man pinned on Ed’s corpse, a sign.
“Justice Harlan, get your n****r now.”
Such was their insidious vow.

A police man from the crowd there.
Cut off Ed’s finger as a souvenir.
A fitting end to these sad events.
Monsters who sought to harm the man,
Could not touch good Ed Johnson’s soul
For good are raised up, evil brought low.
The finger of justice was beckoning,
There would be a day of reckoning.”

V. Judgment Day

“The Supreme Court began its investigation,
Into the city’s depredations.
Federal agents descended.
Laid charges against those that offended.
Twenty-four men were arrested.
Sheriff Shipp’s guilt was suggested.
Sheriff Shipp was in contempt of court
Shipp and six others were thrown in prison.

Public officials across the country
Could not give free reign to bigotry.
In future Supreme Court decisions,
Our Bill of Rights protections

Were incorporated into the 14th Amendment,
And applied to local governments.
Though Styles Hutchins and Noah Parden,
Never practiced law again,
Their courageous fight was a victory,
That changed the course of history.

Progress requires we take a step backward,
Before we can move forward.
These two courageous men,
Fought for justice with voice and pen,
They faded into obscurity
Leaving behind a lasting legacy.

There may be things as miracles,
I have never seen them in any court.
Justice is administered by men.
The aspirations of a nation
Where the people are sovereign,
Depend upon its citizens.
Euclid said there is no royal road to geometry.
The same could be said for justice in a democracy.

Progress oftentimes comes at a price.
Someone somewhere must make a sacrifice.
Cry if you must, shout if you will,
Then wipe away your tears.
Summon your courage.
And begin again.”

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II: Gabriel, The Civil Rights Lawyer’s Tale

by Mark Kodama

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew Chapter 5:10

The time is always right to do what is right.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kingdom of Heaven

I. The Arrest

It was Nineteen Hundred ought Six.
Old Chattanooga seemed transfixed,
By a sudden New Year crime wave
Amidst an election campaign.
The city, ‘neath clouds of silver,
Astride the great Tennessee River.
Beneath its slow surface waters,
Turbulent undertows did stir.

Ed Johnson, a black handyman,
Was lynched for raping a white woman.
In the Old South, a crime more vile,
Than mob killings without fair trials.
Due process and fairness were lost.
A scapegoat must be found at all costs,
Those in charge decreed a sacrifice
On the altar of political expedience.

On January Twenty-Third at the switchback,
Nevada Taylor was attacked.
A young black man followed her home,
Shadowed her as she walked alone.
Around her soft neck this man did wrap
A tightened darkened leather strap.
In this lonely vicinity,
This thug stole the girl’s virginity.

Sheriff Shipp and the doctor were called,
Blacks and whites alike were appalled,
The newspapers demanded retribution.

Passion took the place of reason
For this was the political season
A handsome reward was offered
For information that was proffered,
For arrest of the guilty man.

A man claimed to be a witness,
A man of questionable fitness
The witness placed Ed Johnson there.
Claiming to know him by his stare.
He said he saw Johnson with the strap,
An innocent man had to take the rap.
While a guilty psychopath ranged free
In the terrorized river city.

An angry lynch mob jeered and railed,
Outside the Hamilton County jail,
Judge Samuel D. McReynolds did coerce,
The lawless vigilantes to disperse.
Judge McReynolds understood,
The lynch mob wanted blood
The judge knew the crowd wanted it

So he was ready to deliver it.
Sheriff Shipp did interrogate,
Tried to force Ed to self-incriminate.
Sheriff Shipp bragged to reporters,
He would break Johnson in short order.
Johnson was starved, struck, kicked and hit,
But the man refused to admit.
Nevada Taylor was brought to jail,
Her identification could not fail.

The Constitution they overthrew
Johnson was picked from the lineup of two.
“Johnson Is a Fiend,” screamed the headlines.
“He is surely guilty,” a newspaper opined.
The District Attorney did argue,
To the Grand Jury for its review,
The Grand Jury issued its indictment,
At the height of public excitement.

It was a tyranny of the majority,
The weakness of a democracy.

II. The Trial

Trial was set for Sixth of February,
Amid the irrational fury,
Twelve days after his arrest,
Ed Johnson’s show trial began
To pin the crime on an innocent man
To satisfy the public’s blood lust.
Ed Johnson’s guilt was a must.
Three lawyers were quickly selected.
Ed‘s due process rights went unprotected.

Neighbors ostracized the lawyers,
Threatened harm to their families.
The Mayor, Judge and D.A. met alone,
With Ed’s lawyers who wished to postpone.
They requested another venue, another date,
Judge McReynolds ruled the trial could not wait.

The courtroom, packed with an angry crowd,
Eager to fit Ed in his death shroud,
The D.A.’s r witness lied under oath,
Claiming Ed was near the outgrowth.
Miss Taylor’s own story was unclear,
For Johnson’s identity was in doubt.
Miss Taylor passed out during the attack,
The assailant assaulted her from the back.

Many witnesses did testified,
Ed Johnson was sweeping inside,
The Last Chance Saloon at the time,
Of the wanton and vicious crime.
“If I could get at him,” a juror said, “I would,
Tear his heart out now,” he said as he stood.
By morning all agreed on the verdict,
All twelve jurors voted to convict.

The Judge said Johnson did the crime,
Then praised the jurors for their time.
The Judge then sentenced Ed Johnson,
To hang until his life had run.
Ed Johnson said he was going to die
For a crime of another because of lies.
“May God have mercy on your soul,”
The judge said, playing his scripted role.

Two of Ed’s lawyers voted to appeal.
The third lawyer said his fate was sealed.
So the judge appointed three more lawyers.
To change the vote and to defer
So the three new attorneys
Voted against an appeal.
But from the dark pit of despair,
In a desolate place where

When all hope appeared to be lost,
Two men emerged to pay the cost.
Noah Parden and Styles Hutchins
Stepped into the history books,
With great dangers they undertook.
To represent Ed in his appeal
Offering a glimmer of hope
To the desperate, friendless man.

Gabriel, The Civil Rights Lawyer’s Tale

by Mark Kodama

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from the Birmingham Jail

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw


The Advocate

Gabriel, a civil rights lawyer, gazed out the window. His brown face wore an easy confident smile. His black leather suitcase carried his file for a case he had in Las Vegas. A gold cross pendant hung from his neck and lay against his black turtleneck sweater. His black mirrored sunglasses hid his eyes. He wore a gray flannel suit without a tie.

Bus Driver: Let us listen to stories of heroes,
And their solitary quests for justice.
Of moral men of law courageous.
Their fights against their racist foes,
And the bitter harvest bigotry sows.

Nelson Mandela and Thurgood Marshall,
Lincoln and Cicero, great lawyers all,
Gandhi and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP
Lawyers are central to our being free.
Oh, fair voiced Calliope,
Favor us with epic poetry.”

Gabriel: Because of their high positions
But not their competence,
They made wrong decisions,
With absolute confidence.
To acquiesce to it,
Is to accept it.

I’m a trial lawyer with little renown,
I take cases, most mundane, some profound.
I do well but I am not a fount of gold
The meaning of my work is of most import I’m told.
I cannot win every case I must confess;

But I’m clever, work hard and do my best.
My enemies are smart and work hard too.
It would be easy if they weren’t shooting at you.
I know the local judges, lawyers and rules.
I survived the intellectual hazing of law school.

If you do not know the rules of evidence,
Your client may have a dire consequence.
When trying your case, present it with style.

Be friendly but serious and wear a confident smile.
Present your opening and closing emotionally
And appeal to the jurors logically.
Ethos, pathos and logos are our tools of the trade,
The rules of rhetoric that Aristotle made.
The great Roman lawyer Cicero used to say:
Movere, docere and delectare.

Be a master of rhetoric,
An expert in courtroom politics,
Speak to jurors in words they understand
With the lofty ideas of leaders grand.
Be a student of the mind
And someone that cares,
And I think you will find
You will have a certain flair.

Laws are made and enforced by men
And it is up to them to administer them.
And it is up to men you see,
To make justice a reality.
Justice is only an idea,
That must be fought for.”

I Write a Poem Every Night

by Fidel M. Love

Tonight, I wrote a love poem

‘Cause the words just shifted and sent me

to a happy place as I drifted in memories

of when you used to smile at me

And I laughed a little

thinking of how I let your smile trap me.

So, I wrote a love poem

But last night, I wrote a love torn poem

‘Cause I was feeling that ache in my heart

Why’d you break it apart?

I don’t know if its true love or I’m just taking it hard

That reminds me of a confused poem

which I seem to be thoroughly – I need therapy

for the thoughts in my head

And poetry is what I use for ’em

So, then I read over a beingusedpoem

Since I’ve been used and abused by a few of ’em.

That’s why I choose never to use but soothe you

I remembered a poem I wrote about the touch of your hand

How it had the power to turn the strong into cowards

and have them struggle to stand.

Then I found a poem you wrote and one day handed me

Saying, you loved knowing you could do that

and I was the only man you’d need

So, I can’t understand how you could stand and leave

I’ve wrote so many sad poems that I can’t stand to read

Alone poems, I need a home poems

Lost without his own poems – and gone poems

How I need you to be strong poems…

You brought a clear view to my night, I write every night

‘Cause it was a poem that bought you to my life.

About the Author 

Fidel M. Love is a creative mind and spirit, born and raised on the South-side of Chicago, IL. He has been writing poetry and fiction since age 12. He is a graduate of East-West University with a Bachelors degree in English & Communications. He’s always reading, writing, studying, and learning more to perfect his craft and pursue his dream of being a successful poet and author.