"Now, I'm from Mississippi, son,
and I know how they like things done:
don't look no white folks in they eyes,
go only where there's 'Colored' signs,
and always, always watch your mouth
'cause they don't take no sass down South,"
and little Emmett heard the tips
of guidance from his mama's lips,
but, being young, could not resist
the chance to prove his manliness
when dared by friends (each filled with doubt)
to talk to a white girl down South,
and, though his words were far from rough,
his pert demeanor was enough
to wound the vaunted Southern Pride
her husband hailed when he decried,
"That little saucy nigger's 'bout
to see how we do things down South."
He got four helpers (two were black),
dragged Emmett to a country shack,
and punched and kicked and whipped him raw
and broke his praying, crying jaw,
and scoffed, "Now, nigger, don't you pout,
your tears won't save your hide down South."
They wrapped him in a tarp and hauled
him to the river bank's steep wall,
then stripped him down to his bare skin,
his neck tied to a cotton gin,
and bragged, "We make you food for trout
when you forget your place down South."
Five days went past before the world
saw Emmett's gruesome death unfurled:
his skull crushed from a shotgun blast,
barb wire 'round his young neck lashed,
his wry face, with one eye gouged out,
the proof of justice served down South.
Unfazed, the men showed no remorse
or sorrow for the savage course
of action that they took to slay
the boy from up Chicago's way,
but his slaying began the rout
of hate's oppressive reign down South.