THE HOUSE OF LIBERTY
I come not for fortune, nor for fame,
I seek not to add glory to an unknown name,
I did not come under the shadow of night,
I came by day to fight for what's right,
I shan't let fear, my monstrous foe,
Conquer my soul with threat and woe,
Here I have come and here I will stay,
And no amount of fear my determination can sway.
I asked for your churches, and you turned me down,
But I'll do my work if I have to do it on the ground,
You will not speak for fear of being heard,
So you crawl in your shell and say, "Do not disturb,"
You think because you've turned me away,
You've protected yourself for another day.
But tomorrow surely will come,
And your enemy will still be there with the rising sun,
He'll be there tomorrow as all tomorrows in the past,
And he'll follow you into the future if you let him pass.
You've turned me down to humor him,
Ah! Your fate is sad and grim,
For even though your help I ask,
Even without it, I'll finish my task.
In a bombed house I have to teach school
Because I believe all men should live by the Golden Rule.
To a bombed house your children must come,
Because of your fear of a bomb.
And because you've let your fear conquer your soul,
In this bombed house these minds I must try to mold.
I must try to teach them to stand tall and be a man,
When you their parents have cowered down and refused to take a stand.
Copyright © Joyce Brown, 1964, all rights reserverd.
After the building housing the McComb, MS, Freedom School was bombed during Freedom Summer of 1964, no one was willing to provide another place so the teachers and students conducted classes on the scorched earth of the burned building. The poem above by 16-year-old Joyce Brown, a Freedom School teacher/student, inspired community adults to rise above their fear and reopen the doors of churches to Movement activity, begin donating money and food to freedom fighters, and participate in voter registration.]