CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY THIS YEAR, 1965
Christmas came early this year:
It came in the eyes of a man who received his first paycheck...
at the age of forty-seven
(He had been in debt picking cotton before.)
It came when dark brown eyes and kinky hair
sat next to blue eyes and long flaxen braids in a class
which had been disgustingly pale until now.
It came at the voting booths where black and white candidates vied (albeit a mite unevenly)
for the elective offices of the land for the first time.
It came as a bit of a scare to whites used to exercising power unquestioningly and often unfairly
when some black throats announced that they too might use power.
It came not upon a midnight clear but in the hot sun as thousands marched down roads
to finish a walk interrupted by a shot in the back.
It came gradually...as for the first time
a very few whites began to ask us what we've been doing for two years —
and if they could help, maybe.
It came through [other white] folks who moved in next door with kids they would let play with ours...
a long awaited development.
And, glory-hallelujah, it came when they didn't take their kids away when other, darker, kids came playing too.
But Christmas ain't coming fast enuf:
In factories grudgingly spotted with a few black faces where mostly white women work
who hire maids at $15/week.
On roads still dusty adjacent to the power structure's neat concrete curbstones, good lights, sewers,
good lights, running water, etc.
In homes where black men died at the hands of white cops and other bigots and bullies who are still free
At the now-quiet, once-cheerful Headstart Centers closed now,
while grown men play politics with the lives of kindergarten-aged children.
In northern, suburban, white, ghettos where "RESTRICTED" means keep black folks out
and is often the unwritten law.
In jungles where villagers die as the jelly-gas spills into homes where "enemy" and onlookers look alike...
So we get them all, just to be sure.
How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given, So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his
heaven. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek soul will receive him still, the
dear Christ enters in.
Bob, Alice, Eddy, Danny, Russ and Doug Beech
Copyright © Bob Beech, 1965, all rights reserved.
[Rev. Bob Beech was Director of the Delta Ministry in Hattiesburg, MS. He was a vital part of the civil rights movement under auspices of the National Council of Churches at the time, setting up shop in the Delta region. He brought his (white) family of four kids and wife from Minnesota to live in the heart of the Delta during the tumultuous years of the movement.]