On Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Water Dancer”

America has much to be ashamed of.

Slavery first among them


Those that fought to end it 

are my heros.

For me they are the 

best of America.


I stand with the union

soldiers black and white

at Vicksburg and Atlanta.

I sit with Grant at Appomattox 

To be sure he is not 

Intimidated by Lee’s

Aristocratic bearing.


I hear the simple truth

Stated by the abolitionists.

Slavery is wrong and has to be destoryed.


I follow Frederick Douglass, an 

ex-slave who insisted that the leadership 

of the abolitionist movement include



I serve Harriet Tubman who conducted slaves to freedom,

and hail John Brown, a white man, 

determined to show the slave holders

that the enmies of slavery would fight.


“John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

But his soul goes marching on.”

sang young men from Minnesota, Massachusetts

and Maine as they headed south to

smash the slaveholding aristocracy.


Let us stand with them; all of them.

October, 2019

3 thoughts on “On Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Water Dancer”

  1. Harry, I wrote this poem in response to your response to “The Water Dancer”.

    We named him Zola, our beloved dog, to honor the man, an intellectual – but one with guts – who would not turn his back on vilest crimes committed by the state, and laid his life and freedom on the line, demanding justice for a single Jew.

    We named him Togo, our beloved dog, to honor the brave heart who led the team that brought the serum to Nome that deadly winter.

    I’m getting old, and may not have the chance to name a dog again, but if I do I’d like to name him (maybe her, can’t tell) John (Joan) Rosa (Rosario) Luxemburg Malcom (Malina) X Fred (Frederica) Newman Brown. Too long, you say, but I’m running out of time to show these people how beloved they are and more, how much their courage has meant to me.

    Louis Hinman November 10, 2019



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