On The Murder of Clemente Pinckney

Last week hate killed a brother
A Pinkney just like me
Save he was up from slavery
And I from poverty

I'd thought once in my ignorance
I understood their plight,
Knew what it was to bear hate's scorn
And bear the weight of faith's long fight

But later, as I lived life through
I learned I never had a clue
On what a hating heart can do
To plague the lives of brothers.

We both grew up as Methodists
He southern, I up north;
I never saw a black man
Till miss Doxy's group came forth

Russ College Singers came to Fairmount town
With music like I'd never known
Great Spirituals of mighty power
O'rwhelmed us in that wakening hour

Song poured from vessels colored dark
More joyous than my meadow larks
That day Love put its seal above my door
I sensed a bit the pain that black folk bore.

Then I learned some southern black folk bore my name
That some in my own family once owned slaves
And might have grieved them to my family's shame
But now all those were safely in their graves.

Then came the news of slaughter in the Church
Where Clemente Pinkney pastored his fine flock
A blind, benighted, hate-filled red-necked kid
Spewed out his wrath to justify and mock.

So who beside the slain were victims here?
Love thought another victim was that kid
Clemente's flock in perfect love most rare
Prayed, "God forgive; he knew not what he did."

Gene Pinkney