This is the month of September, and it’s also the month that one of Pittsburgh’s most outstanding Black men, Mal Goode, died. He died on Sept. 16, 1995. I was extremely privileged to have known him as a youngster and adult, and burst with pride when he would address me as friend. Mal was a voice of freedom, equality and justice. He was first before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. I’ve written and spoken about Mal Goode over the years and as I contemplated how I would explain, particularly to the current generation who and what Mal was all about, his favorite poem came to mind. It’s entitled, “The Bridge Builder.”
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray
To a chasm, vast and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim…
That sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when he reached the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength in building here,
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way,
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head,
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A Youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught for me,
to that handsome youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim,
So good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”
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