On the Day the Children Marched
Children's Crusade Against the Death Penalty,
Photo courtesy of the Bruderhof Society
On the day you marched they said
the angels were with you,
Winding through new Meadow Run and on
Down the highways, trouncing across
Inauspicious redneck counties and
Into buildings where God reigned.
Heading towards Babylon—braving the
Wind and the rain and Satan's fire—
You didn't come because of some
Twisted notion of heroism,
You weren't drawn by romantic visions
Of martyrdom or self-aggrandizement.
The thing is, you could have been anywhere—
Wallowing in the decadent playgrounds
Lolling in the murky dark shadows
Of blissful ignorance, yeah,
Safe and secure behind your impenetrable
Fortress of hypocrisy and indignation.
On the day you marched God smiled
down on you—
Because you see an injustice and
You want to correct it.
You see racism and you want to cure it,
And you see the brutal inequity of
Capital punishment and you want to abolish it.
When the Pennsylvania governor signed a death warrant for Reggie Lewis, an inmate at SCI Green State Prison, the children from nearby Spring Valley School knew they had to act. The kids, who had been penpals with Lewis, badgered their parents to drive them to Green County, where they marched up to the prison, waving signs and chanting, “Don't murder Reggie! He's our friend!" and "End the racist death penalty!" A few weeks later Reggie Lewis got a stay of execution. The elated children next organized the Children's Crusade Against the Death Penalty, a three-day, 30-mile march of 1,000 young people that attracted media coverage worldwide.
From Leaving Death Row, a collection of poems by Reginald Sinclair Lewis.
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