To Miss Mary Britton.

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by Paul Laurence Dunbar

When the legislature of Kentucky was discussing the passage
of a separate-coach bill, Miss Mary Britton, a teacher in
the Schools of Lexington, Kentucky, went before them, and
in a ringing speech protested against the passage of the
bill. Her action was heroic, though it proved to be without
avail.

God of the right, arise
And let thy pow'r prevail;
Too long thy children mourn
In labor and travail.
Oh, speed the happy day
When waiting ones may see
The glory-bringing birth
Of our real liberty!

Grant thou, O gracious God,
That not in word alone
Shall freedom's boon be ours,
While bondage-galled we moan!
But condescend to us
In our o'erwhelming need;
Break down the hind'ring bars,
And make us free indeed.

Give us to lead our cause
More noble souls like hers,
The memory of whose deed
Each feeling bosom stirs;
Whose fearless voice and strong
Rose to defend her race,
Roused Justice from her sleep,
Drove Prejudice from place.

Let not the mellow light
Of Learning's brilliant ray
Be quenched, to turn to night
Our newly dawning day.
To that bright, shining star
Which thou didst set in place,
With universal voice
Thus speaks a grateful race:

Not empty words shall be
Our offering to your fame;
The race you strove to serve
Shall consecrate your name
Speak on as fearless still;
Work on as tireless ever;
And your reward shall be
Due meed for your endeavor."

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