Only a Pawn in Their Game


Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain
Only a pawn in their game”  [2]

When twenty-two-year-old Bob Dylan sang before the gathered masses at the Washington Mall in August of 1963, Civil Rights Activist and World War II veteran, Medgar Wiley Evers, had been buried just two months before.   The victim of a racially motivated assassination, Medgar was just two weeks shy of his thirty-eighth birthday.    Having just arrived home, Medgar was shot through the heart moments after getting out of his car.   Still, Metgar managed to stagger thirty feet before collapsing just outside his front door.   This is where his wife and three young children found him.  [3]

While decrying the barbaric and inhuman cycle of victimization, Dylan’s lyrics also point to its pervasiveness.   Chances are it is far more contagious than we’re comfortable admitting.    Throughout his lyrics, Dylan points out that hatred and divisiveness are intentionally stoked by those who crave power.   What better way to reduce people to pawns?   Like the police who watched while an officer kneeled on George Flloyd’s neck as he gasped for breath, are we not bystanders when we fail to recognize our complicity in systemic oppression?

Are we not pawns in someone else’s game?


[1] Bob Dylan, Civil Rights March, August 28, 1963

[2] Bob Dylan, Only a Pawn in Their Game, Folk, blues

[2] Wikipedia, Medgar Willey Evers, 1925-1963

Author: Jessica McArdle

These are dark and corrosive times. As a writer and ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, I use prayer, poetry, reflection, and scripture to re-align our embattled spirits with the uniqueness and urgency of our God-given identity and call.

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