- Ballad of Vertical Integration for Harry Golden, author & Civil Rights Worker
Civil Rights was brewing in a Charlotte coffee shop, At an orange juice bar called Tanner's down near the main bus stop. Cross of Trade & Tyron where the Cherokee once hunt, Harry Golden cast his shining eye on a way to make his point.
In a country of strangers from either side of town, There were only certain places everybody could sit down. Here black & white—both alike—stood UP and drank their juice. "Eureka" Harry Golden cried "That's the way to call the truce!"
Take out all the CHAIRS from restaurants, cars & schools Get rid of all the benches—Make way for other rules. If some folks can't sit down somewhere then everybody STAND We'll learn & eat VERTICAL—INTEGRATION in this land!
He printed up his paper—The Carolina Israelite. Only in America he then went on to write. Gold dust shines in red clay—We pass on from the past. Harry, thanks for tickling our funny bones to help the changes last.
Now it's year 2003—just look around you how Things aren't quite as far along as they ought to be somehow. This ballad is a call to arms to open up our eyes: Each and every one of us, Golden can arise.
For each and every one of us, a rainbow is the prize.
Lee Ann Brown is assistant professor of English at St. John’s University in New York City. A poet and filmmaker whose first book, Polyverse (1999), won the New American Poetry Series Award, she is also the founder and editor of the small press Tender Buttons.