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By Frank Kearns

Never thought I’d ever see
a black man become president

Easy to root for Shirley Chisholm —
never thought she really had a chance

Folks were scared of Malcolm X
But you could see
where he was coming from
could see where things were headed

Never thought I’d ever see
Martin Luther King shot dead

Never thought I’d ever see
“Malcolm X Boulevard”
a street sign
in the heart of New York City

Poets talked of Emmett Till
Never thought I’d ever see
Rodney King beaten on TV

Never thought I’d ever see
live on my cellphone …
shot in the back, shot sitting in their car, shot on the street,
never thought it would be so real

there’s no denying any more
what every person of color knows

We are peeling back the layers
the foundation stones of America
every layer we are lifting
has been there a long time

every layer has been there
none of them are pretty
every layer startles us
by what is revealed below

I never thought I’d see the day
A socialist of
any stripe
would be a serious candidate for President

I never thought I’d ever hear
a candidate for President say
“I will call on white people like myself
to put ourselves in the shoes
of those African American families
who fear every time
their children go somewhere.”

I never thought I’d ever hear
a candidate for President say
“I alone can fix it”

I’d like to say it’s getting better—
today it seems like just another layer

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