This week the world watched the video of Walter Scott being shot and killed by the South Carolina police officer who has since been charged with murder and fired from the force. This week our Thoughtful Thursday offering is focused on justice. L. Chris Stewart, the lawyer the Scott family hired once they learned of the video’s existence, had this to say about justice and the witness who volunteered the video in a recent NYTimes article found here: ““I knew this family would never get justice, and this guy just hands us justice,” Mr. Stewart said. “He handed us justice.”

The pursuit of justice has wearied Black Americans for generations. The three poets below offer their perspectives: W.E.B. DuBois revises a national anthem to make it more palatable in “My Country Tis of Thee”, Langston Hughes gives us his short and cynical take on Lady Liberty in “Justice Poem”, and Tupac Shakur explains the problem in “Lady Liberty Needs Glasses”. In the horrific case of Walter Scott’s murder, it appears that Lady Liberty needed and was given a video.

My Country Tis of Thee

Of course you have faced the dilemma: it is announced, they all smirk and rise. If they are ultra, they remove their hats and look ecstatic; then they look at you. What shall you do? Noblesse oblige; you cannot be boorish, or ungracious; and too, after all it is your country and you do love its ideals if not all of its realities. Now, then, I have thought of a way out: Arise, gracefully remove your hat, and tilt your head. Then sing as follows, powerfully and with deep unction. They’ll hardly note the little changes and their feelings and your conscience will thus be saved:

My country tis of thee,
Late land of slavery,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my father’s pride
Slept where my mother died,
From every mountain side
Let freedom ring!

My native country thee
Land of the slave set free,
Thy fame I love.
I love thy rocks and rills
And o’er thy hate which chills,
My heart with purpose thrills,
To rise above.

Let laments swell the breeze
And wring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song.
Let laggard tongues awake,
Let all who hear partake,
Let Southern silence quake,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God to thee
Author of Liberty,
To thee we sing
Soon may our land be bright,
With Freedom’s happy light
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

W.E.B. DuBois

Justice Poem

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

Langston Hughes

Liberty Needs Glasses

excuse me but lady liberty needs glasses
and so does mrs justice by her side
both the broads r blind as bats
stumbling thru the system
justice bumbed into mutulu and
trippin on geronimo pratt
but stepped right over oliver
and his crooked partner ronnie
justice stubbed her big toe on mandela
and liberty was misquoted by the indians
slavery was a learning phase
forgotten with out a verdict
while justice is on a rampage
4 endangered surviving black males
i mean really if anyone really valued life
and cared about the masses
theyd take em both 2 pen optical
and get 2 pair of glasses

Tupac Shakur