It was because grace and mercy
came along and rescued me.
—MISSISSIPPI MASS CHOIR
Whenever we needed more confidence
than we woke up with in the morning
God would come in a song
wearing a black woman’s voice
a voice that sounded like that far away
look in Reverend Martin Luther King’s eyes.
When she opened it up, it wrapped its arms
around all our fears, our doubts;
it lifted our hearts and spirits and took up
so much space there was no room to hate back.
Every time she laid down a verse over the roar
of fire hoses, attack dogs, and police batons,
our own voices would join hands, pick it up
and let the chorus carry us as far as we needed to go.