C.T.: Prayer for the Living

Delivered by Jabari Simama at the Occasion of the

Celebration of Life for C.T. Martin

C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center

May 15, 2021

Jabari Simama with coffin of C.T. Martin at his Celebration of Life on May 15, 2021 at C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center in southwest Atlanta. Coffin rests inside the John R. Lewis wagon

Get up off your knees and open your eyes

Do you see women sleeping beneath  

I-20 viaduct?

Do you see the young men with 

whiskey lips on the bench

in Doctors’ Park?

Do you see rats scurrying 

toward the sewer when we leveled drug-infested 

tenement some used to call home?

These are what we miss when we close our eyes.

Get up off your knees and open your eyes

Can’t you hear the voices of children playing in the rain?

They are crying out for youthfests, carnivals, summer jobs 

They are yearning for us to care that they 

live when they walk, live when they drive, live to play kid games

in CT Martin Plaza

They are children who sing and hum the Black National Anthem

who assemble at your feet to hear your wise tales &

myths of yesteryears.

They are here so you

Never Die.

We miss them when we close our eyes. 

Get up off your knees and open your eyes

The lonely woman with smooth spoon skin 

once broke leg doing the Kem booty groove 

She beckons you

The one who once taught our children

Freedom songs, 

cleaned our teeth

delivered our mail 

fried & barbecued bird

She once cleaned houses of the nasty ones 

washed & ironed clothes 

changed their babies’ smelly diapers– 

Kids who grew-up to despise her

Lynch her, block her from voting

Ingrates who erected barriers on Peyton road to prevent her & you from moving in. 

She is who we miss when we close our eyes.

And my brother, now that you have come to the end of your road

Who will vouch for you?

Who will hoist you up?

How many, who were the beneficiaries of your 

affirmative actions, will honor you?

How many broke folks you made rich will spare you a dime?

How many will show up when your serving days are gone,

when there’s no one left to do the unceremoniously hard work 

log long hours, make life-stories? 

After you’ve delivered the natatorium, streetscapes 

urban villages

Doctors’ parks

After you’ve run the dollar stores out of town 

dope pushers from corners  

doubting Toms & Thomasinas from city hall,–

After you’ve sacrificed all

Who will buy you lunch?

Who will give to you one thin dime for every dollar

made, earned, unearned

Who will carry the torch of Clarence Terrell Martin?

Thanks my brother for loving us, even when we did not love ourselves

for showing up for us while we slept

Opening our eyes

Speaking for us when we did not know we had a tongue

talking to us softly so we had to listen to hear 

Respecting and Loving Just-Us

Thanks for your beneficence

Above all, 

thanks for teaching us to 

Pray then Act!–with our Eyes Open.

Jabari Simama recites poem dedicated to former City Councilman C.T. Martin
(See link to the poem and service below).

The link to the Celebration for C.T. Martin can be found here

The Poem starts 1:45:28 seconds into the program.


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