By James Clingman
If I should die on my way to freedom,
At least I was on my way.
At least I was on the road, pushing
against the winds of change, and
pushing against the grain, making my
way toward freedom.
At least, each morning that God blessed me to awaken and put my feet on the floor, I stood up and stood tall, put one foot in front of the other and began that day once again, on my way to freedom.
At least I was on my way, each day with my Queen Jocelyn and my precious children around me – and each moment – pressing toward a future in which they would finally be able to rest from our long and harrowing journey. I knew there would be no rest for me, ‘cause I was on my way to freedom, and freedom is always an uphill climb.
But, if I should die on my way to freedom, at least I was on my way. Unlike some of the Children of Israel, unlike some on Harriet Tubman’s freedom train, and unlike some of our brothers and sisters today, I was always determined to go forward. I was making my way to freedom, and nothing would turn me around.
At least I was standing, but NEVER standing still.
At least I was walking, and NEVER looking back.
At least I was running, but NEVER running in place.
At least I was striving, but NEVER striving in vain.
If I should die on my way to the sweet light of freedom, at least on my journey the view changed everyday.
At least I met and loved new brothers and sisters along the way.
At least I persevered, pressed on, kept going, despite the daily roadblocks.
At least I trusted God to make a way for me out of no way, and He always did, because He never fails.
If I should die on my way to freedom, there’s just one thing that I ask. Put your arms of love around my Queen and my children and keep going! Fill my space with someone strong and unafraid, someone who can chart new courses, someone who loves and trusts his people enough to continue on to freedom.
If I should die on my way to freedom, whether I am leading or following, pass the word down the line, distribute portions of my essence to my dear brothers and sisters, and tell them to keep going. Tell them I’m watching them, and tell them I love them. Tell them the chain is not broken; it just got stuck for a little while as we were going through a tight space. Tell them what I told them when we had our family talks. “Let’s go get our freedom,” the MATAH rallying cry.
So, if I should die on my way to freedom, don’t linger too long at my grave. Don’t stay too long in your grief. Give those hugs, and give that love; shed those tears, but dry your eyes. Get back on the road to freedom so you will be able to say, “If I should die on my way to freedom, at least I was on my way.”
Dedicated to Brother Ken Bridges,
October 11, 2002