The Bridge to Freedom

Grand-daddy always told us stories
Of his days as a slave and a share cropper.
To look at him,
You would never know
That he could be forced to submit
to someone who claimed ownership over him.
He was a tall, muscular man
Who walked with his shoulders back
And his head held high.
Who could rule over him?
But it happened.
He was pulled away from his wife
And children,
Sold to another home,
Miles away from the ones his loved.
He was made to work in the fields,
In the heat,
With a sack to collect the harvest
Over his shoulder and his back bent.
He told us that the work was hard.
The overseers were harder
And would walk the lash across his back
Until his shirt was tattered,
And the flesh on his back opened up,
Leaving crimson stains
On the fabric.
He said,
“You are free-born,
Don’t nobody own you,
Don’t nobody control you,
But you.
I bent my back
All those days
In the sun,
So my back could be a bridge
For you to walk across
And find freedom.
I thank God,
How I thank God,
That you are free!
But don’t you go on believing
That freedom stands still.
No, no,
You have to keep walking towards it.
You keep walking.
And make sure you bend your back,
Make your back a bridge
So your children
can cross over
To the new freedoms
They will one day see.”