Poem - I'm Sorry Dr. King

I was born in 1958 and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. It was George Wallace country....

You were alive
When I was a child
I knew of your torment
But still I smiled
Surrounded by bigots
I ignored your scars
We waved the flag
But it was the stars and bars
While you marched
To remove your chains
We played rebel soldier
And said "The South shall rise again!"
Someone called you a nigger
And yes... I laughed
It all seemed so funny
A young boy gave you the shaft
Later I discovered
My parents rejected this thought
We were called "nigger lover"
I said "No! We're not!"
How sad as I ran
Humiliated to find
That those who looked like me
Hated my parents' mind
I wanted to be good
I wanted to be proud
Instead I was afraid
I couldn't say it out loud
And while I lived in shame
A silent scared racist
You answered the calling
And began to resist
But it took so long
For me to see
The things that you fought
Happened right in front of me
Labeled 3/5 of a man
Not worthy of a drink
Only to be made fun of
I didn't know what to think
I'm sorry Dr. King
It's all I can say now
I know who is worthy
And to you I bow
By any means necessary
Was how they committed sin
While you turned the other cheek
They rejected you at the inn
You walked with those
Who were proud and fearless
While you asked to be human
In fact you were peerless
Was Jesus' journey less difficult?
Rejected from birth
Bringing us together
With love from this earth?
More than a man
But as weak as another
You gave your life
To save your own brother
Yes I am sorry Dr. King
For being so weak
For not standing up
For being afraid to speak
But today
I can only hope
That you understand
While I continue to grope
Oh how I wish
That my weakness never sprouted
That my goodness
Was never doubted
But to sit by your side
And look you in the eye
And beg for your dream
As you ask me why
Why does a white man
Ask a slave for a dream?
Why does a white man
Ask a slave for self-esteem?
Why do I ask?
Because I have done nothing
I've lived a life of frivolity
While you died for something
I have squandered all I was given
Expecting it as my right
While you planted what was taken
And brought the slave to life
In an immoral world
Of material possession
You earned moral superiority
And gained entrance to heaven
Who do I answer to?
What penance can I pay?
I am sorry Dr. King
Will you let me stay?
Will you let me learn
Of my shortcomings as a man?
Is it any wonder
That I now kiss your hand?
Yes I am sorry Dr. King
As sorry as a child can be
I can make no promises
Except pray for people to be free
I'm sorry Dr. King
But I'm also proud
That I came to know you
And finally removed the shroud
Of bigotry and racism
From my small mind
If we ever meet
I hope this is what you will find







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Comments 51 comments

sameerk profile image

sameerk 5 years ago from India

nice hub , loved it


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast

Truly awesome a poem was this. Just beautiful. Thanks for writing it.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@ Sameerk - thank you for the nice comment.

@ Rhonda - thank you too!


lyndre profile image

lyndre 5 years ago from Scotland

Found this while hub hopping.

Very thought provoking.How many of us turn a blind eye to racism and bigotry?


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Well written.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@ lyndre - thank you... I don't know the answer to that but I know my own history...

@ FitnezzJim - thanks for commenting!


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 5 years ago

Mr Poetman, I like this , I think you touched base on something we all needed to do and in a way , I think we today could all take a lesson from him. As we now take a lesson from you ! Whats in your heart is good! Thanks for a great reminder for all of us.


Jean Bakula 5 years ago

I think all of us around your age had parents that were racist, because they never knew any better, and were taught to fear anyone who looked different. In our generation, we lived and went to school with a few different cultures, and now our children are being raised in the true "melting pot" that our country was supposed to be. Many Americans share this shameful history, but we were not the ones who made it that way. You are really coming along in your poetry. I can never hear MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech and not cry, after all these years.


Michael Adams1959 profile image

Michael Adams1959 5 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

Truly eye opening the inner thoughts of most of us during those days. Now to reach these same very people for Christ for He died for us all,


CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 5 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

As a child, I was familiar with the whole MLK era. I live Mid East Coast, so to me the occurence happened seemed so far away. But as I got older and started to focus on his cause and right, I am totally supportive of MLK.

In my hub, "Who Can Predict The Future", I decided to illustrate my poem with video of Martin Luther King "I Have A Dream" speech. I hope that more young children and teens learn how important were his goals for this country.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 5 years ago from Vermont, USA

It seems you have made quite a journey. You must be feeling lighter after leaving those parts of yourself you didn't like behind. Dr. King and your parents would be proud.

CP


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

This is so awesome! Somewhat like you I grew up in a society where racism was the norm, and yet my parents were totally not racist, and we had some difficult times as a result. My first day at school, and perhaps why I hated every day at school for the whole time I was at school, I was laughed at and mocked for calling a member of my father's staff, who happened to be black, "Mr." It was not done at that time - white kids called black people by their first names, no matter how old they were. My parents thought differently - any adult of whatever colour was called "Mr" or "Mrs".

I have always been an admirer of Dr King since hearing a recording of his "I have a dream" speach circulated clandestinely on my university campus - it had to be clandestine as the South African apartheid regime had declared the speach "undesirable" and so possession of a copy of it was illegal.

Thanks for this moving poem.

Love and peace

Tony


Dusty Snoke profile image

Dusty Snoke 5 years ago from Chattanooga, TN

A beautiful poem. I am a child of the 70s, so I do not have a concept of societal racism beyond what I have read. I have come across many individual racists though. Skin color should not be a consideration in any terms.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@horseback – thank you for the comment. This was clearly autobiographical and as I wanted to recognize the day I seized the opportunity to openly discuss how things were when I was a child.

@Jean – thank you. My Father was from Cuba so he understood the problems of racism. I never heard him use the “N” word but my childhood friends used it liberally as did some of their parents. It was common practice.

@Michael – thank you for commenting. I paralleled MLK with Christ. I hope you don’t mind.

@CMCastro – thank you. It is my hope as well that the youth of America are made aware of MLK and the sacrifices he made for a real America.

@Christopher – yes I’m happy to evolve. You grow up in a certain environment and it becomes who you are. The trick is to recognize it and change what needs to be changed.

@Tony - thank you and I’m sure it was much tougher in South Africa than where I was but the similarities existed. Blacks were not to be respected. Period. And it appeared to me that the more ignorant whites were the worst abusers; it was as if they needed someone to bully in order to make themselves feel better about who they were

@Dusty – thank you. You are so right and that is the core of MLK’s message…


Wintermyst profile image

Wintermyst 5 years ago

Beautiful poem, I was raised in the same time period. I have to tell you when I went down south, (it is where my ex is from) and met an african american man it was yes maam and no maaam, when I told him to call me by my name, he refused. This was the 1970's. He said people would kill him if he called me by my name. How sad is that.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Wintermyst - thank you for commenting. I had the EXACT same scenario in Jackson, Mississippi back in 1988. A black man who worked for one of our sub-contractors would just look at the floor and said the same thing: "yes sir; no sir." It was sad. He was beaten down. It made me sick....


Wintermyst profile image

Wintermyst 5 years ago

Yeah I know what you mean. I am what everyone from the south calls a yankee, (Montana) so it was a huge culture shock for me.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Wintermyst - there was a woman we'd hired to run the office and she used the "N" word in front of me and I called her down. It was very uncomfortable. We didn't fire her but later I asked her why she looked down on blacks and she said if you aren't better than a black person what are you? It was incredible... We were doing one construction job in Mississippi (our company was based out of Dallas) so we didn't know any locals and kind of worked with what we had... it was quite an experience....


Wintermyst profile image

Wintermyst 5 years ago

And I am sure she truly believed what she said. I wonder how she feels about Oprah? I remember reading something about people not realizing some african americans have lives like the Huxtables on The Cosby Show. I thought "Are you kidding me?" I still can't wrap my head around that one. I just can't believe there are people that ignorant. Still!


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Wintermyst - I'm pretty sure she believed it... she was brainwashed and emotionally immature... she was in her 40's at the time... People tend to get there impressions from a very limited viewpoint... it's incredible that they forget everyone is the same on the inside....


Wintermyst profile image

Wintermyst 5 years ago

I agree, I haven't been to the south in many years, so I don't know if it has grown at all with this kind of thing.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Wintermyst - I'm sure things have improved; my poem referred to the 60's when I was in elementary school. Many of the oppressors are no longer with us....


Wintermyst profile image

Wintermyst 5 years ago

One can hope:-)


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

This is an absolutely wonderful poem and perfect for this day. Do not be ashamed. Those who can see their mistakes and misperceptions and grow from them are truly blessed. I grew up in the north so my experience was different but my parents were similar to yours. The 'N" word was never to be said and there would be consequences if it was. I also felt ashamed when I could not do more at my high school when there were a couple of race riots. Of course I was a skinny sophomore against hundreds but I wished I could have stopped it. I have bookmarked this Hub so I can read this often. My African-American fiancee has copied this and is going to send it to her friends. Thank you for writing it.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@HSchneider - thank you so much for saying these things. I am extremely honored to hear that this is being passed on. It is the truth about my life and it is how I feel today. I like you was timid when I could have spoken up as a child... but not wanting to be bullied I remained silent... I wish I was different... there is nothing I can do about that now but speak out when I can...


Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

What I know for sure is....when you know better you do better!!! That is the most important thing...learn and grow. What a wonderful tribute to a very honorable and deserving man whose life was cut short. But God allowed him to see "in a dream" the promised land.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Dee- thank you for commenting... yeah... all you can do is be better today than you were yesterday. It's a tribute but it's also asking for forgiveness....


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is so wonderful.The whole world should read this. Thank you for sharing.

Cheers


Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

I felt lead to come back ant say this....There is a prayer written by Marianne Williamson and presented in her book titled "Illuminata" the first couple of lines or verses say "Please take my past and take my future. Transform them both through the miracle of Your power into energies of love and love only".

I see the power of those words in every poem I've read that your have written... the past has been tranformed into energies of love and you portray it beautifully. You are a gift and I enjoy reading what you have to offer.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Always - thank you... I'm just a guy out here who's trying to relate to things much bigger than myself...

@Dee - you are so nice to say these things. I hesitate at times to write things that may not exactly reflect my experience but on this topic I felt I could reveal what I knew about myself. I don't want to accuse anyone of anything but... I know... I know how things were and I felt compelled to say it here. Thank you again....


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 5 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

Wow, what a powerful poem! Thanks for writing such an honest piece. I think Doestoevsky had it right in Brothers Karmazov when he said we are all deeply indebted to each other. It's always a hard journey to recognize that what seemed right at the time was in fact horribly wrong.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Elefanza - thank you. It's a matter of being honest with yourself. I was just a child so I don't know if I would have marched with him had the opportunity arisen. But I know how it was in my life and I'm here to be a truth-seeker even if it shines a light on my shortcomings.....


Eddie jay 5 years ago

This is a great poem .. Besides the fact that all of the things that you

have witnessed and endured to share this with the world is very admirable

thank you for that .


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Eddie Jay - thank you for commenting... I didn't endure anything to speak of... not like black people in America... I just know how it was in my little neighorhood back in 1967... yeah... the racism was a way of life for some folks....


quildon profile image

quildon 5 years ago from Florida

I think you deserve a hub nugget for this. You have probably spoken for a lot of white folks who followed the path of racism without even being conscious that they were doing so. But thank God Dr. King's dream is still alive and is now becoming a reality.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Quildon - thank you for being understanding... As Duane Allman once said, "It's not revolution, it's evolution and when I'm in Georgia i eat a peach for peace..." all I can do is try to better myself as a person (evolve mentally) and writing helps in that regard. We have to be willing to examine ourselves and say "I can do better." I have a long way to go...


coexist73 profile image

coexist73 5 years ago from Muskegon, Michigan

Glad i hub hopped this is a fantasticly inspiring work of poetry :)


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@coexist - thank you for stopping by... I appreciate your very kind remark...


Mark Ewbie profile image

Mark Ewbie 5 years ago from Euroland

Hate poetry... loved this. Oh I mean poetry about flowers and clouds and stuff - but this is excellent. Giving something back from the ignorant child. But don't be hard on yourself - we were mostly all ignorant once. I probably still am.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Mark - thanks for commenting... I hear you on the flowery stuff... I think this poem is where my style is evolving to in the sense of the realism... I still like metaphorical references but it's not really who I am... I have a few that invokes the sun and moon and I'm pleased with how they turned out but overall I tend to be more masculine (not that feminine is bad; it's just a matter of style if that makes sense) and it somewhat limits what I can do....

As for ignorance I plead guilty... I learn something new everyday... thanks for the support...


Ashantina profile image

Ashantina 5 years ago

You're poems are always very honest.. this is the true essence of poets and poetry. Truth.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Ashantina - thank you for following me as you do. I think opening my life up to others and revealing the good and the bad is the best thing to do. But it isn't easy to admit major character flaws. There is no question that my childhood environment locked-in a bias about certain things that has taken years to uproot. You always know your true feelings when confronted by stressful situations because you don't have time to think; instead your mind defaults quickly to what you really believe and in so many ways it's what someone else told you to believe. That's how I know my true bias. So now I hope that under duress my mind will tell me to say and do the right thing.


pmccray profile image

pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

I've never read anything so beautiful and poignant. So full of self truth and learning. You sir truly have a beautiful soul. Voted up, marked awesome, beautiful and shared.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@pmccray - thank you very much for that comment. I wasn't sure where I was going when I started writing but it kept popping into my head. I realized then that I was confessing my sins and it was easy because I was telling the truth.... my truth...


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

This is amazing, I can see you are really doing "the work" suburban poet. I admire that.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@snakeslane - I'm sorry it takes me so long to acknowledge comments. I appreciate you reading this. It was my confession I guess.... I know how it was back in the 60's because I was there as a child....


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Beautifully honest and introspective on your behalf. This should be in every newspaper in the Nation on MLK Day. I read this and just today I see such major steps backwards in the arena of race relations to an alarming degree. I just moved from a small southern town, Bennettsville, South Carolina. This is the poorest, most illiterate county in the state and living conditions are terrible. This weekend, the KKK reunited to have a march down mainstreet to make their presence known. And to top it off, they were escorted by the local police. There are still places in our country where hate is still prevelant on all sides. I had to leave this terrible place and will never go back. Your hub is very important because this war still isn't over. Well done!


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Hey Tammy, I can't believe the Klan still exists. It's incredible that someone would be moved to join forces with an organization that represents hate and oppression. It's very sad. Thank you for reading this. I'm going to post a couple of others I've written about civil rights or race relations tomorrow....


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

I will be sure to check them out. There are areas in the rural south with active KKK. I have seen them in Maryland and South Carolina. If you want an eye opening experience google Bennettsville, SC. Thanks for your response.


Freya Cesare profile image

Freya Cesare 4 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

This is type of poem which able to make me teary from the happiness of knowing there are people out there who really understand how to respect and love our humanity. This is a great honor for me too, Mark. To know you and learning about the world inside your mind.

Awesome!


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Tammy & Freya - I'm sorry I took so long to get back to your comments. Thank you and yeah Tammy it's sickening that these kind of people continue to plague us. Freya you are too wonderful to say these things. I'm just trying to be a good person. It really should be a simple thing but for some reason it's not....

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