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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blues Poem for An American Lost

A Tribute to Nina Simone AKA Eunice Waymon, Civil Rights Activist, who wrote and sang "Mississippi G----m" in 1965 in response to the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.**

by Susan Fox

Nina, I know you meant every word.
What you endured leaves me aggrieved.
“Goin’ home now,” you sang. Isn’t that na├»ve?
They ripped that word from your bones.
Heart-breaking Tragedy: Medgar Evers widow consoles
her 9-year-old son at her husband's funeral service
Someone assassinated Medgar Evers*
What burns me: the double stunner --
they wouldn’t let him in the hospital because of color.
Took 30 years, but they finally caught that white sand dollar.

That made you so mad you damned Mississippi.
Turned your hometown into the Forbidden City.
Can’t go back. You took a stance.
So you roamed: Liberia, Switzerland, the South of France.
Step-child of Africa, Nina Simone, but it was never home
Did you find a place your heart could own?

You died in France, but sweet Eunice, your lovely face found a home.
Your outrage, your beauteous voice, your grief for our nation:
These things settled here, my dear.
Some of us woke up.
It was just too late.
You couldn’t come home.

Lovely Nina Simone in self-exile in Holland 1965
*Civil Rights Activist Medgar Evers died at the hospital after he was shot in the back in his driveway in Jackson, Mississippi on June 12, 1963. He originally was refused admittance to the hospital because of his color, but was finally admitted when it was explained who he was (Source: Wikipedia) It took 30 years, but his murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, a fertilizer salesman and a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted and imprisoned in 1994. He died at the age of 80 in prison in 2001. Nina Simone followed him into the next life in 2003.
**Nina was also angry because of the White Supremacist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, which killed four little girls.  

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can't you see it? Can't you feel it?
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think everyday's gonna be my last

Lord, have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here, I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer

Don't tell me, I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying, "Go slow!"

But that's just the trouble, do it slow
Washing the windows, do it slow
Picking the cotton, do it slow
You're just plain rotten, do it slow

You're too damn lazy, do it slow
The thinking's crazy, do it slow
Where am I going? What am I doing?
I don't know, I don't know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I bet you thought I was kiddin'

Picket lines, school boy cots
They try to say it's a communist plot
All I want is equality
For my sister, my brother, my people and me

Yes, you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you'd stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh, but this whole country is full of lies
You're all gonna die and die like flies
I don't trust you any more
You keep on saying, "Go slow! Go slow!"

But that's just the trouble, do it slow
Desegregation, do it slow
Mass participation, do it slow
Reunification, do it slow

Do things gradually, do it slow
But bring more tragedy, do it slow
Why don't you see it? Why don't you feel it?
I don't know, I don't know

You don't have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That's it!

Nina Simone


  1. powerful song poem by Nina Simone – thank you for introducing me to her.