Pauli Murray

P
Pauli Murray
Harlem Riot, 1943
Not by hammering the furious word,
Nor bread stamped in the streets,
Nor milk emptied in gutter,
Shall we gain the gates of the city.

But I am a prophet without eyes to see;
I do not know how we shall gain the gates
of the city.

August, 1943
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To the Oppressors
Now you are strong
And we are but grapes aching with ripeness.
Crush us!
Squeeze from us all the brave life
Contained in these full skins.
But ours is a subtle strength
Potent with centuries of yearning,
Of being kegged and shut away
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36
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Words
We are spendthrifts with words,
We squander them,
Toss them like pennies in the air–
Arrogant words,
Angry words,
Cruel words,
Comradely words,
Shy words tiptoeing from mouth to ear.
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Mr. Roosevelt Regrets (Detroit Riot, 1943)
Upon reading PM newspaper’s account of Mr. Roosevelt’s statement on the recent race clashes:“I share your feeling that the recent outbreaks of violence in widely spread parts of the country endanger our national unity and comfort our enemies. I am sure that every true American regrets this.”

What’d you get, black boy,
When they knocked you down in the
gutter,
And they kicked your teeth out,
And they broke your skull with clubs
And they bashed your stomach in?
What’d you get when the police shot
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