The American Idea
Come, Rest

The Unfinished Idea - For All the People


We the people
However you came,
Whatever you left behind,
Whatever you bring to the table
Whatever your name
Or ties that still bind
Together, we must be come able

To build a more perfect union
To speak with one voice and with many
To hear the heartbeat of neighbors
To walk as a people and love one another.

We hold these truths as essential
That all are created equal
That God has bestowed indisputable
Rights that cannot be abridged
or abandoned.

The idea of America is the
Ideal of America
A reach that exceeds
Grasp or our vision.
It's bigger than us,
Greater than our collective wisdom,
Greater than our history,
More precious than our blood,
More to the core,
And oh, so much more
Than our recollections
And our recitations.

Self-evident truth that confounds
Its most articulate voices.

Neither conquest nor manifest destiny
Can define us.
All our flags, brags and symbols
Cannot refine us.

It is the idea, the ideal
And commitment to make it real.
That is America's genius and genesis.

And it must be for all or
It is meaningless for all.

Of the people,
By the people,
For the people.
All the people.

Here and Everywhere.



Introduced in 1900 as a poem by African-American educator and activist James Weldon Johnson to mark Abraham Lincoln's birthday, and later set to music by John Rosamond Johnson. It remains a powerful hymn of love and prayer for country as well as the struggle of African Americans for liberty.