John Doar- Write That I…

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John Doar- Write That I…

Marcos Rosales, poet

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In Ms. Rucker’s Intro to the Civil Rights Movement class, students memorialized the legacies of historical actors from the Black Freedom Struggle by using the poetic prompt, “Write that I…” See other poems in the “Student Work” section of the Lion’s Roar.

Tell them that I served my country

And the people since WWII

 

Write that I was the one white guy

who gave protection to James Meredith

The first black student to enter the

University of Mississippi

 

Tell them that I was the one who led

the federal government’s on-the-ground

efforts to dismantle segregation on the South

 

Write that I, in 1964, successfully prosecuted the men

who killed three young civil right workers in Mississippi

and the state head of the Ku Klux Klan

 

I went from helping Black people register to vote to

single handedly stopping a riot of whites in Mississippi

Tell them that in 2012 president Obama said

He was the face of the Justice Department in the South”

 

It was me that defused a standoff between bottle-throwing

civil rights protesters and police officers  with their guns drawn.

 

When you tell my story say that in my attempt to break the riot

I said “I’m from the Justice Department, and anybody here knows what I stand for is right.”

And the crowd slowly melted.

 

Tell them that I was awarded with the Medal of Freedom

the country’s highest civilian honor.

I was the one who prosecuted some of the most infamous

cases of murder and violence in the South during the ‘60s

 

When you tell my story, be sure to share that when Viola Liuzzo was murder on the last night of the march from Selma to Montgomery, I prosecuted the three Klans men

who were sentenced to maximum of 10 years in prison

 

Tell them that I repeatedly put my life in danger in the name of Black Freedom Rights

 

Write that I rode with the Freedom Riders across Alabama in 1961

That I moved in the midst of violence in racial hot spots across the South.

 

I wasn’t the Justice Department’s first choice for the civil rights position.

When you tell my story say that

I was offered the position after several turned it down,

Even when I found myself in the best job in Washington.

 

When you tell my story say that I lived 92 long years

doing something I was passionate about.

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John Doar- Write That I…