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The Color Sergeant

James Weldon Johnson 1871 (Jacksonville) – 1938 (Wiscasset)



(On an Incident at the Battle of San Juan Hill)

Under a burning tropic sun,
With comrades around him lying,
A trooper of the sable Tenth
Lay wounded, bleeding, dying.

First in the charge up the fort-crowned hill,
His company's guidon bearing,
He had rushed where the leaden hail fell fast,
Not death nor danger fearing.

He fell in the front where the fight grew fierce,
Still faithful in life's last labor;
Black though his skin, yet his heart as true
As the steel of his blood-stained saber
.
And while the battle around him rolled,
Like the roar of a sullen breaker,
He closed his eyes on the bloody scene,
And presented arms to his Maker.

There he lay, without honor or rank,
But, still, in a grim-like beauty;
Despised of men for his humble race,
Yet true, in death, to his duty.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is best remembered for his leadership within the NAACP as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and anthologies. He was also the first African-American professor at New York University. Later in life he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University. more…

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    "The Color Sergeant" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 29 Nov. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/20732/the-color-sergeant>.

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