If we must die, let it be not like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
A poem by Claude McKay published in the July 1919 issue of The Liberator. McKay wrote the poem as a response to mob attacks by white Americans upon African-American communities during Red Summer. The poem was reprinted in The Messenger and the Workers' Dreadnought (London) later that year. The poem was also read to Congress that year by Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republican Senator from Massachusetts.