Verse > Anthologies > James Weldon Johnson, ed. > The Book of American Negro Poetry
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James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938).  The Book of American Negro Poetry.  1922.
 
An Indignation Dinner
 
James D. Corrothers
 
 
DEY was hard times jes fo’ Christmas round our neighborhood one year;
So we held a secret meetin’, whah de white folks couldn’t hear,
To ’scuss de situation, an’ to see what could be done
Towa’d a fust-class Christmas dinneh an’ a little Christmas fun.
 
Rufus Green, who called de meetin’, ris an’ said: “In dis here town,        5
An’ throughout de land, de white folks is a-tryin’ to keep us down.”
S’ ’e: “Dey’s bought us, sold us, beat us; now dey ’buse us ’ca’se we’s free;
But when dey tetch my stomach, dey’s done gone too fur foh me!
 
“Is I right?” “You sho is, Rufus!” roared a dozen hungry throats.
“Ef you’d keep a mule a-wo’kin’, don’t you tamper wid his oats.        10
Dat’s sense,” continued Rufus. “But dese white folks nowadays
Has done got so close and stingy you can’t live on what dey pays.
 
“Here ’tis Christmas-time, an’, folkses, I’s indignant ’nough to choke.
Whah’s our Christmas dinneh comin’ when we’s ’mos’ completely broke?
I can’t hahdly ’fo’d a toothpick an’ a glass o’ water. Mad?        15
Say, I’m desp’ret! Dey jes better treat me nice, dese white folks had!”
 
Well, dey ’bused de white folks scan’lous, till old Pappy Simmons ris,
Leanin’ on his cane to s’pote him, on account his rheumatis’,
An’ s’ ’e: “Chilun, whut’s dat wintry wind a-sighin’ th’ough de street
’Bout yo’ wasted summeh wages? But, no matter, we mus’ eat.        20
 
“Now, I seed a beau’ful tuhkey on a certain gemmun’s fahm.
He’s a-growin’ fat an’ sassy, an’ a-struttin’ to a chahm.
Chickens, sheeps, hogs, sweet pertaters—all de craps is fine dis year;
All we needs is a committee foh to tote de goodies here.”
 
Well, we lit right in an’ voted dat it was a gran idee,        25
An’ de dinneh we had Christmas was worth trabblin’ miles to see;
An’ we eat a full an’ plenty, big an’ little, great an’ small,
Not beca’se we was dishonest, but indignant, sah. Dat’s all.
 

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