Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday's Poetry: "Touched by an Angel"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of "Loving Day," the date on which the Supreme Court gave interracial couples the right to marry throughout the United States.  Unbelievably, until the Court announced its ruling in Loving v. Virginia, fifteen states still had laws on the books preventing marriage between individuals of different races - all either in the American South or contiguous to that region  (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia).

Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a black woman with some American Indian heritage, had been legally married in Washington, DC, but the couple later chose to relocate to their home state of Virginia for economic reasons.  They were brought to trial in Virginia for breaking the state's anti-miscegenation law and sentenced to a year in jail.  The state offered to suspend the sentence if the Lovings would agree to leave Virginia for a period of at least twenty-five years.  With an able assist from the good people at the American Civil Liberties Union, the matter was appealed in the courts with the result being the end of bans on interracial marriage throughout the United States.

America is a much better place today thanks to the bravery of people like the Lovings, Rosa Parks, the Freedom Riders, and everyone else who rose to challenge the unjust dregs of Jim Crow laws .

To commemorate this special day, I have chosen to present a "loving" poem by the late Maya Angelou.  Please enjoy "Touched by an Angel," a poem that seems to speak directly to people like Richard and Mildred Loving.

Touched by an Angel
by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

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