just couldn’t escape your fate, could you, Stack-O-Lee of
your birth in 1870, they had it in for you, black rebellion was
still in the air.
years a slave and as many free they finally whipped the hell out
were a Jubilee Child, youngest of four. Nobody told Rosa your mama
was dead as Abraham Lincoln. She learned no letters or instruction
than the whip or the rod. At eight years old, you were too bad for
raise and she gave you to a white man to break, to manage seven
worked night and day for that white man, no pay, just enough to
worked ‘til your legs were sturdy and arms powerful, your spirit
becomes of a fifteen-year-old boy, no mama, no papa, nothing?
you seem at peace, at rest in heaven, you, upright in an unpainted
public view, on the street, they have stripped you bare, button, cut of cloth,
whiskers, the tip of a finger, an ear, a toe.
man, the photographer will
archive this image!
witnesses and twelve jurors, the great
men of Hicksford
your murder, found “no presentments” in the law
the mob, lynched a jailed Negro on a cherry tree in courtyard
ran away and promised myself I’ll die before I’ll work
another white man, a vow that led me to take what I needed.
yesterday’s slavery, for breaking & entering, stealing
the smokehouse, a black could be given “thirty and nine,”
branded and hanged
At fifteen I got twenty months for Edmunsen
three years for Mr. Shield’s Store.
twenty I nearly killed a man with my blade
so I left Scotland Neck. I rolled and rambled for years
I was twenty-nine, on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
Southside Virginia, when I fell in with the Irishman O’Grady.
3, 1899, Charles Wyatt, a grocer, was robbed and killed
Avenue and Glasgow Street, Portsmouth, Virginia, I was
seized in Norfolk, given a speedy trial. Sentenced to hang
12, 1900, my partner Dave Brandt O’Grady passed me a file.
Irishman was an educated tramp by choice, with an evil temper.
robbed George Blick of Belfield; O’Grady killed him with a
mangled him brutally with a heavy steel rod for sport and revenge.
life is worth no more than others; if I were the murdering
they take me for I could have killed John Grizzard,
wife and infant; yet I took only clothes, a watch, a pistol.
was ready to die in Skippers, defending myself from Confederates
thought they had easy money; I came out my sleep shooting.
Weldon drew; he never got off a shot. J. W. Saunders,
got one in the back. J E. Morris escaped with his life.
was still standing, a hole in my hand, a dead man walking,
my head, $1000, four white men dead, my life not
the clothes on my back. I knew I didn’t have long
live; I was dog tired when C.P. Parham & W. H. Moore
me bleeding in Jarratt. Waiting on the railroad tracks
were hunters and could scent a Negro a mile away.
bogus telegram arrived in Stony Creek--back to Emporia.
from the train, the mob ready to kill me, I escaped
bruises, but my time was near, 1500 in the courtyard,
“Lynch the nigger! Lynch the nigger!” I taunted them
”Hang me, you cowards, hang me. Break this neck.
been a good one.” Two white men dead; a stolen gun!
walked boldly, erect to the cherry tree, my arms
behind my back, a rope around my neck. I done
some wrong in my life, not all that people say.
have no regrets. I did the best with what I had.
in mid-air; the whites cry out with joy,