This poem was read before Houston City Council on Memorial Day, 1996,
and published later that year in the winter issue of America's Intercultural
Magazine (P.O. Box 20554, Chicago IL 60620). Copies were then decorated and
presented to City Council by the Pruitt family of Allen Parkway Village--one
of several families forcibly relocated to separate housing facilities in
violation of their constitutional right peaceably to assemble as a community,
as would have also allowed them to petition for a redress of grievances.
The poem was included in a framed collage created and presented to
Jimmy Carter by the Banks children of Freedman's Town, representing the Fourth
Ward Health and Educational Center for Youth, Inc. (see NEWS-PHOTO here [430KB]).
Very special thanks to the many people waiting outside Carter's book-signing
who let the children skip in line instead of standing out in the cold! -- etn
A Personal Prayer for
Allen Parkway Village
I am no William Wallace, no John F. Kennedy,
Nor am I Lenwood Johnson, or Sheila Jackson Lee.
But I must take a public stand against hypocrisy,
For I believe in equal rights and true Isocracy --
The Sister of Democracy -- a spirit born within
A conscience free of prejudice, from suffering and sin.
I pray to God for inner strength that I may be so pure
To touch the hearts of little faith that only love can cure.
How else can two divided foes be moved to mediate?
Who else can end injustice to the people by the state?
I pray to God for gentle words, like joyful seeds to sow,
To lead me where I'm needed most, to plant them as I go.
The place I've taken refuge -- Allen Parkway / Freedmen's Town --
Must now be spared from plans to tear historic buildings down.
To save this site exploited for the value of the land,
I call to churches nationwide to lend a helping hand.
Can we rebuild a temple there and start with what we've got?
Can we embrace the history of those we may have fought?
Have we not learned from Auschwitz and slavery and war?
Must we be lost in politics when peace sits at our door?
I ask all hearts be freed to let the Holy Spirit in
To join the laws of God and man and Earth as one again.
Yes, we can be perfect. Our church can be made whole
If we all work together for the good of every soul.
I'm no Sir William Wallace, or John F. Kennedy,
Judge David Hittner, Governor Bush, or Sheila Jackson Lee.
I'm not your Pocahontas, or Lenwood E. Johnson III,
But what I know of Justice is that each voice must be heard.
-- Emily T. Nghiem --
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