Verse – They Call Us Chalks

They all have color,
those in charge.
We are colorless,
pasty, pale, and weak,
vulnerable to the sun,
and visible most nights.
We cannot hide.

Those who are gold
or bronze or ebony
or mixed know they are smarter.
They go where they will.
From the best schools,
they have the top jobs.
They call us Chalks.

They all speak the World Language.
We jabber in Frenglish, Scandy,
Grussian, or Balkan.
We squat in the abandoned cities
while they hum around
in their shade-seekers.
Cancers kill us.

There are tales the Three P’s
once were ours: Power,
Privilege, and the Police.
Now we have one…Poverty.
They tell us what to do.
We submit or are Injected.
Freedom is a dream.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, March 21, 2015

Verse — Chicago’s Southside, 1965

The First Presbyterian Church
and the Blackstone Rangers

All stores and resturants must serve all
after the Civil Rights law passed
in 1964. But real
change comes, that has a chance to last,
as power shifts. Our Church began
to work with gangs to help get blacks
to vote. When Stones said everyone
should register, they did! Then folks
began to see that City Hall
responded to their needs: new trucks
to fix the streets appeared, to haul
away the piles of garbage. Police
still threw around their white might, but
some liberal lawyers, black and white,
were found to fight for the release
of innocent poor folks. Some peace
between gangs even came at night…

The Reverend John Fry, ex-Marine,
on Sunday could inspire wood pews
to organize for holy fights.
On Monday words that were not clean
scorched any sinners who refused
to honor all black civil rights.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Jan. 26, 2015

NOTE: This is a memoir of Steve’s years at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago when Steve and Nadja Shoemaker sat in the inspired wood pews listening to the Rev. Dr. John Fry’s preaching at First Presbyterian Church. Click HERE for information on the Reverend John Fry, First Presbyterian Church of Chicago, the Blackstone Rangers, and the Chicago Police Department. John Fry was an inspiration to us at McCormick, a bold preacher in the social gospel tradition who put his life where his mouth was.