Rejoice

This poem was written in 2008 right after I found out that President Obama had won the presidential election.  I was 18 and had just started attending an HBCU, Hampton University, and it was my first time voting.  I’ll never forget that moment the announcement was made and how the street in front of my dorm building filled with Black students in celebration that their president was Black, that feeling that something historical and incredibly monumental had been achieved.  Every once in a while, I come across this poem and it always gives me a sense of pride and hope….Because thats exactly what I felt back then. I’d like to feel that way again right now. So, I thought I would post it here, a permanent reminder for myself and others that HOPE is always right there.

Lift every voice and sing,
Lift every voice… and sing.
I never understood the meaning of those words until tonight.
You see those words signify that we won the fight.
It means that when I feel my heart wrench and tears swell up in my eyes, that for the first time it’s out of joy and not despair.
The joy in the knowledge that we’ve won the fight.
The joy in the knowledge that when the young black people came running by the hundreds chanting and screaming, OBAMA! OBAMA! That they weren’t just screaming for Barack but for every one of us.
For every African princess torn from her homeland,
For every child born a slave not knowing their worth,
For every man who fought for his freedom and that 40 acres and a mule,
For every grandparent who marched beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
For every Black boy who followed the wrong path believing he could do no better…
Our rejoicing is for you…And I cry, I cry.
I cry for how far we’ve come, out of the depths of oppression.
I cry for what we are, a people who cannot be chained down.
I cry for where we will go, into a world of equality…
A world where Black, White, Purple, Blue all come together and are one,
and I cry…
I cry, I scream, I shout, I stomp…
I lift my hands to the heavens and I rejoice,
I rejoice that my children will open their books and see a black face amongst endless clouds of white,
I rejoice that we have received the proof that our people have overcome, and will overcome every obstacle in our paths,
I rejoice,
as I lift my voice,
and I sing,
until the Earths and the Heavens ring…
FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST,
THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE ARE FREE AT LAST!

-Risa Llanah

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