helped to build this great America --
her up from rude huts
down in the midst of wildernesses.
beat back those wildernesses,
the ever-advancing forests,
feed her weak and disheartened colonists,
by fear and Indians.
helped to build this great America;
watched her shore-line creep
Maine to Massachusetts
through the Carolinas
the Florida Everglades.
fought Indians, Redcoats
the stony, barren soil of New England;
tilled the great Virginia estates --
homes of Presidents;
sang in the rice-fields of Georgia and the Carolinas;
in the swamps and on the sugar and cotton plantations
of Louisiana and Mississippi,
the bull-whip of the overseer
like black lightning about my head
cracked like the thunder of doom.
tobacco-fields, rice-fields, corn-fields
sang so sweetly
America believed me happy.
gathering about her the airs of a Democracy,
stretched forth welcome hands
the dispossessed millions of Europe:
Irish, German, West End Englishman, Italian,
Frenchman, Spaniard, Portuguese, Slovak, Pole,
Jew and Armenian, saying:
unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-
laden, and I will give you rest."
I toiled on.
toiled on until honest men could stand the sight
my black back, bleeding and raw,
down in humble, earth-kissed supplication
the Gods of Greed.
then, at last, contending streams of blood,
made closer this great land of ours.
saved America from discord.
caught the flying javelins of hate against my
them free of the Catholic and Protestant,
and Alien Stock,
fear of me made all men cease their bickerings
I became the scapegoat of the nation.
times of stresses, wars and blasting storms,
one thing I shall evermore remember:
all of the strength and the blood and the
sweat of me --
all of my longings, my sorrows, my hopes
and my joys
into making this great land of ours;
this is my land by the right of both God and
of man --
this is my land, wet with my own life's
it is enriched with the flesh and the bones
of my fathers --
this land is mine, grown big through my
pain and sufferings;
all I am today and ever shall be
deeply buried in her plains and valleys,
hills and mountains,
lakes and streams.
shall forever be a part of her
she will always be a part of me.