This coastal town along Florida’s shore
known today for its car races, the railroad’s no more
is a resort of sort for the famous and rich
it’s become a place to buy whatever you wish.
Its sandy beaches are warm and wonderful
the atmosphere is happy and most delightful
but if you look a little closer beyond all the array
you’ll find history here more rewarding than play.
Once there was a young girl in 1904
that Daytona Beach produced more fertile than soil
here she cultivated an education true to the core
that made us all rich and made our minds soar.
Fifteen of seventeen, on a happy July 10th
On a Mayesville, South Carolina farm in 1875
with her bright eyes wide open right from the start
Samuel and Patsy were proud of their child.
Inspired at church by a missionary man
her eyes sailed afar toward African land
but the Presbyterian Board said “no” to her plan
and put a close to the dream she once had.
Her body stout, straight, not very tall
her skin as black and shiny as nightfall
Mary McLeod Bethune carved her way through
when the mission chose, for better or worse, other things to do.
Defeat was never a part of her scheme of things
there were other ways to fulfill her dream
it didn’t take her long at all to succeed
in fulfilling her quest through her own people’s needs.
It was a school she had hoped one day to build
then it spread to a hospital upon a nearby hill
so she began her campaign with a painstaking smile,
a handshake, and a bike that she cycled for miles.
Her campaign brought no fortune, but plenty of fame
to this very day, the world knows her by name
she started on a landfill, in a shack with hard dirt for a floor
no wallpaper, or desks, no glass as a pane,
no heat from a stove, just determined young brains.
Still she wooed wads of green from the tightest of grips
from the likes of Gamble, Rockefeller and White
she fed hungry minds and kept them from bore
she sounded liberty’s bell and embraced freedom’s door.
Reform was bitter for those who fought change
even the Red Cross was reluctant to lend her a hand
the Defense Department was a mountain to climb
but voter’s rights were the easiest, they gave in with time.
She never ever was concerned for only herself
or of fame, fortune, or this earth’s perishable wealth
cardboard became her insoles, worn socks laced her toes
a frayed shawl wrapped her shoulders to warm her from cold.
She loved us, so bravely she taught us the ropes
she determined to stir us, revive in us hope
she desired a new life beyond racial divides
our first lesson learned, to become colorblind.
She saw in us humans one complete race
no black man, no white man, no pigments to trace
not even a hint of a border to keep
and separate us into clans which offer no peace.
“Invest in a human soul,” she had once chimed
put your money in banks of precious mankind
“Enter to Learn” and “Depart to Serve”
give to the people whose voice thirst to be heard.
So, come, vacation here for awhile
but leave behind more than a tired painted smile
loosen your pocketbook from your tight wadded hand
be content that you fed one more soul in this land.
We stand tall and salute you Ms. Mary Bethune
just as the prejudice cabby did one afternoon
See, he refused her a ride in his tired ragged cab
so she withstood him to his face and her pardon he begged.
She lectured and versed him in the real facts of life
her goal was to change his hatred and strife
by the time he had driven her where she’d depart
he’d acquired a new look at his self-centered heart.
As she left from his sight, going her way
she did not wait to hear what he would say
yet, he smiled and tilted his hat toward her way
admiring how swift she reformed him that day.
The influence Ms. Mary bestowed on them all
overshadowed the rich, encouraged the small
you can’t pour her values into fine cups of clay
for her merit indeed can no longer be weighed.
written by Donna B. Comeaux
No duplication allowed
Revised February 25, 2014