When cotton was king
a people was enslaved and declared subhuman.
When corn was king
the McCormick reaper freed a million men
to serve in the Armies of the Potomac,
Cumberland and Tennessee.
Southerners’ mental gymnastics
won all the the eighteen-sixty Olympic medals.
Hypocrisy recognized by a few
caused them to teach their slaves to read and write
for the importance to know the gospels,
to come to know Jesus and salvation.
Do not dismiss the bravery of this act.
In most southern states that was a capital offense.
Before the black man was brought to the Americas,
the red man was enslaved and worked to death.
Columbus promised Isabella and Ferdinand
boat loads of New World riches,
but found only one valuable commodity
in abundance to enrich Spain.
No one heeded the Pope
when he spoke out against this practice.
How shabby our collective Christianity.
How spartan our application of the golden rule.
copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney
Poetic license allows the Olympic medal to be awarded in 1860, when the modern Olympics did not start until 1896.
Documentation of the enslavement of Native Americans is in the book The Other Slavery, by Andrés Reséndez.