Photo of U.S. soldiers on a sidewalk in DC with a Black man restrained against a fence.
“D.C. riot scenes - aftermath.” By Marion S. Trikosko on April 8, 1968 for U.S. News & World Report. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Thunder clouds rumble
as I look over yonder

to a clear blue sky.
The biggest raindrops
I’ve ever seen falling
from that July sky.

And I wonder why
the tanks rolled
this recent Fourth of July.

Another one of those
wannabe dictators
trying to show might

another mighty

Black folks were slaves,
once upon a time,
on the Fourth of July.

I remember those
days gone by,
back in ’68,
when they tried
to murder the dream.

At seven years old,
the first time
I’d seen my mother cry.

Army tanks
and the white man;
I wondered why.
Tanks and
airplanes and
helicopters flying by,
on the Mall,
on the Fourth of July.

A military parade
and the dictator.
“America the Great.”
What else is there
to celebrate?

Photo of protestor

A Trump supporter and protesters face off on the Mall on July 4, 2019 as others look on. Photo by Bri Bilter

Yes, Trump has made
America great,
in the worst kind of way.
That’s what some people say.
I always wonder,
who are they?

A Black man
like me,
what do I see?
A Black woman
who knows
is not a dog.

How long ago was it?
In ’68,
D.C. was a police state.

Can you imagine, fully,
armed police everywhere?
Black men walking
in a straight line
with their hands
in the air?
No Mexicans
or Puerto Ricans
to be seen anywhere.

The U.S. Army
has taken control
of the Senate
and the People’s House.
Secret police within
the CIA and the FBI.
And all our “leaders” follow
Trump’s right-out lies.


on the Mall,
this past Fourth of July.