They were together every since he learned how to walk. The sturdy poplar tree he declared was his tree and he named her “Angel”. He would climb to the top of her large outstretched branches as a pirate looking for land and buried treasures, he used her green leaves as money bankroll his travels, and swing from limb to limb, hallowing and pretending to be Tarzan. He could be heard playing throughout the neighborhood. This was the place he went to when he was sad after a spanking. It was under this tree where he stole his first kiss, lost his virginity and carved a heart into Angel’s tree trunk. It was the place where he demanded to take all of his graduation pictures and it was the last stop before he took the bus to college.
The tree branches had been the place where he had experienced such a beautiful life now it would be the place where life would end. For the klans declared “we are tired of these so called educated niggas coming back here stirring up people with talk about civil rights. They gonna git their rights but it won’t be to civil.”
As this young Black man stood for the last time next to his beloved tree, they would have no options and no say. Power has never belonged to an old tree and a young Black man. They knew without a doubt that being strong had sealed their fate. For his strength was seen as a threat and hers as a means to eliminate that threat. As the rope was placed around one of her large branches and then the noose around his neck, a stillness seemed to surround them and rain came out of nowhere in the middle of a beautiful sunny day. It was as if the universe was taking a pause and was crying because the power of their unwavering love would be forever stained by the unyielding power of hate and the slaughter of another Black man.