Declamation Piece- I Demand Death
My hands are wet with blood. They are crimsoned with the blood of a man I have just killed.
I have come here today to confess. I have committed murder, deliberate, premeditated murder. I have killed a man in cold blood. That man is my master.
I am here not to ask for pity but for justice. Simple, elementary justice. I am a tenant… My father was a tenant before me and so was his father before him. This misery is my inheritance and perhaps this will be my legacy to my children.
I have labored on a patch of land not mine. But I have learned to love that land, for it is the only thing that lies between me and complete destitution.
It is the only world that I have learned to cherish. And somewhere on that land I have managed to build what is now the dilapidated nipa shack that has been home to me.
I have but a few world possessions, mostly rags. My debts are heavy. They are sum total of my ignorance and the inspired arithmetic of my master, which I do not understand.
I labor like a slave and out of the fruits of that labor I get but a mere pittance for a share. And I have to stretch that mere pittance to keep myself and my family alive.
My poverty has reduced me to the bare necessities of life. And the constant fear of rejection from the land has made me totally subservient to my master. You tell me that under the constitution, I am a free man-free to do what I believe is just, free to do what I think is right, and free to worship God according to the dictate of my conscience. But I do not understand the meaning of all these for I have never known freedom. I have always obeyed the wishes of my master out of fear. I have always regarded myself as no better than a slave to the man who owns the land on which I live. I do not ask you to forgive me nor to mitigate my crime. I have taken the law into my own hands, and I must pay for it in atonement.
But kill this system. Kill this system and you kill despotism. Kill this system and you kill slavery. Kill this despotism and you set the human soul to liberty and freedom. Kill this slavery and you release the human spirit into happiness and contentment. For the cause of human liberty, of human happiness and contentment, thousands and even millions have died and will continue to die.
Mine is only one life. Take me if you must but let it be a sacrifice to the cause which countless others have been given before and will be given again and again, until the oppressive economic system has completely perished, until the sons of toil have been liberated from enslavement, and until man has been fully restored to decency and self respect.
You tell me of the right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But I have known no rights, only obligations; I have known no happiness; only despair in the encumbered existence that has always been my lot.
My dear friend, I am a peace-loving citizen. I have nothing but love for my fellowmen. And yet, why did I kill this man? It is because he was the symbol of an economic system which has made him and me what we are: He, a master, and I, a slave.
Out of a deliberate design I killed him because I could no longer stand this life of constant fear and being a servant. I could no longer suffer the thought of being perpetually a slave.
I committed the murder as an abject lesson. I want to blow that spelled the death of my master to be a death blow to the institution of the economic slavery which shamelessly exists in the bright sunlight of freedom that is guaranteed by the constitution to every man. My dear friend: I do anguish from the weak and helpless and has laid upon the back of the ignorant labor burdens that are too heavy to be borne, I demand death!
To this callous system of exploitation that has tightened the fetters of perpetual bondage in the hands of thousands, and has killed the spirit of freedom in the hearts of men, I demand death.
To this oppression that has denied liberty to the free and unbounded children of God, I DEMAND DEATH!