Playing a Runaway Slave

by on December 17, 2010 · 13 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, From the Soul, History, Life Events

Portraying a runaway slave

I chose

to just let go

and let the character



looking at him

somewhat literally

as me,

ready, like him,

to fly into the winds

on a whim,

at a heightened pace,

dashing for liberty

or death

whichever appears first in the race.

I wanted him

to carry himself

calm and slow

but underneath

as I got into his skin

I began to sense him

as one who held within

his Negro

heart and soul

a muted yearning to say

“Hey, massa,

you better look my way

so I can tell you something you need to know.

The next time you wake me up

in the morning around fo’,

more than one day in a row,

one of us is go’

have to go.”

All who are oppressed

and want to be free

of such a reality

must somewhere inside

as a boost to his or her dignity

indulge in such a fantasy.

And, when I saw the screening

my character pleased me

with how I had him say

what he had to say

just the way

I wanted him to say it

when we filmed it.

Good to see

Old Jacob set free

because if you ask me

he was definitely

at a place in his destiny

when he was go’

have to go’.

That was the only

way I could play him,

don’t you know –

just like me

if I were a slave

looking to live free.

Run, Jacob, run,

you and me,

you and me.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar OB Joe December 17, 2010 at 9:54 am

The guy in the runaway slave graphic looks alot like the guy in the ‘don’t feed our bums’ graphic.


avatar Ernie McCray December 17, 2010 at 10:18 am

Slaves. Homeless. Treatment of. Definitely some similarities.


avatar OB Joe December 17, 2010 at 10:43 am

Ernie, I did not mean to insinuate or even suggest that homeless people are on the same level of oppression as the slaves that built this country.


avatar Ernie McCray December 17, 2010 at 10:57 am

And I wasn’t responding to any perceived insinuations on your part, OB Joe. My comments were based on the discrimination that slaves as well as homeless people face. Kind of along John Muir’s theory that when you find one thing in the universe you find that it’s connected to every single other thing – or some facsimile thereof, cha, cha, cha. Doo Waa (smile).
I’m trying to remember the Don’t Feed the Bums graphic. I think you’re right. Same model, perhaps? If so, I wonder who his agent his.


avatar Brenda McFarlane December 17, 2010 at 10:55 am

Thank you.


avatar Ernie McCray December 17, 2010 at 11:13 am

No hay de que.


avatar Peter Brown December 17, 2010 at 11:46 am

So when and where is this movie and how does one get to see it?


avatar Ernie McCray December 17, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Coyote Falls is the name of the movie. It’s a short film that the writer/producer/director, Cody Powers, a high school student, plans on entering in short film festivals and the like. I’ll let people know whenever its available to see. Cody is the son of local actor and playwright, Joe Powers, whose work some people might know.


avatar annagrace December 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Ernie- we need a screening for Ragsters! Including a Q&A with Cody!


avatar Ernie McCray December 17, 2010 at 7:16 pm

That must be possible.


avatar Shane Finneran December 19, 2010 at 5:13 pm

I second that – a screening would be awesome.

And I also really enjoyed the poem – nice work, Ernie!


avatar Ernie McCray December 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Glad you liked it.


avatar Lauren December 17, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Great poem, Ernie, about a most important issue – freedom. I love that you could do this film and represent something you hold dear – that all should be free to be.



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