Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer
Immorality - Poem by Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer
Have you heard, my friend, the slander that the Negro has to face?
Immorality, the grossest, has been charged up to his race.
Listen, listen to my story, as I now proceed to tell
Of conditions in the Southland, where the mass of Negroes dwell.
Ev'ry city, town or county, ev'ry state on Southern soil,
Has mulattoes in its borders, found among the sons of toil.
Can you tell from whence they landed; or to whither shall they go?
Is the Negro race responsible alone, I'd like to know?
When a man among the Negroes is the least suspected there
Of an intimate relation with a daughter that is fair,
Then an angry mob arises and he answers for the same
In a death, the worst in cruelty the company can name.
Though the noonday sun is shining at the time the lynching's done,
Still the officers of justice can't detect a single one,
Who partook in Negro killing, for the deed no one is blamed,
And inside the nation's senate comes a voice, 'We're not ashamed.'
Is the same true when a white man leads a Negro girl astray?
When he takes away her virtue, is the same true? tell me, pray,
Do the press and pulpit clamor or condemn the mighty wrong?
Is there sentiment against it? is the burden of my song.
When the case is thus presented, they are silent as the grave,
And the law at once is powerless a Negro's name to save,
So you see the same continues and the truth is like a flood,
That in veins of Southern Negroes flow the best of Southern blood.
Can you tell of these mulattoes, did they fall here from the sky?
How is this that they're among us? can you tell the reason why?
Who's to blame for their existence? is the Negro race alone?
If there are such freaks in nature it is time to make them known.
'Tis a custom born of slavery when master's law and might,
Was enforced upon the bondsman without question of the right,
And the parson preached on Sunday how the servant should obey
All the mandates of the master, let them be whate'er they may.
O, how sad the tales of bondage when persuasive measures failed,
How they tortured Negro women till their hellish plans prevailed!
Women faithful to their virtue were as martyrs sent to rest,
Others yielded to the tempter, weary, helpless and distressed.
So the spirit lives at present for the master hand to rule,
Cook or washer, nurse or housemaid passes through this training school,
Lo! the greatest of temptations, men and devils there invent,
And present them to the servants, on their ruin so intent.
There's no friend to whom the dusky maiden can appeal for aid,
To the mistress of the home to speak of such she is afraid,
In the law there's no protection that a Negro girl can claim,
None to rescue, none to pity, so she enters into shame.
Now reflect for just a moment, in the light of what you see,
Which is worse, to yield the tempter or the evil one to be?
Can you still believe that Negroes are immoral more than whites?
O, how different the picture if the Negro had his rights!
There's a God who rules in justice, one who feels his children's pain,
So we know that sin and darkness cannot always hope to reign,
All the ills to Negro women will the Father bring to light,
For the Judge, the only Judge of all creation will do right.
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