January 29, 2013

What is Black History?

by Latorial Faison

It is the dirt road our forefathers trod,
Memories of their lives branded in our hearts.
It is a word, a place, a state of mind.
Black history is a peek into our ancestors’ time.

It is a piece of fabric our grandmothers wore,
An old rope that our grandfathers lived to deplore.
It is a slave ship and middle passage over seas.
Black history is cotton fields and tobacco leaves.

It is a plantation overseer and back door crumbs,
Weeping and wailing, a beating of drums.
It is a troubling truth, an unapologetic past.
Black history is an entire race struggling to last.

It is a Mississippi burning in a Tennessee town,
An evil that lingered to bring Black people down.
It is a book or movie of strength, courage, and will.
Black history is the fate of young Emmett Till.

It is little Ruby Bridges, the exquisite Ruby Dee,
Carter G. Woodson, and Coretta Scott King.
A Mahalia Jackson song, a Michael Jackson routine,
Black history is the phrase “Let freedom ring!”

It is Cheney University, the Tuskegee Airmen,
The N. A. A. C. P., the Black Holocaust Museum.
It is a navy master diver named Carl Brashear.
Black history is our legacy of triumph without fear.

It is General Colin Powell, a Vaudeville drama,
Zora Neale Hurston, and President Barack Obama.
It is every single experience of our history.
Black history is the story of you and me.

Copyrighted February 2011 Latorial D. Faison
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History Volume 3 (2012)

November 08, 2012

Ruby Bridges' Brave Step

The year was 1960
The day, November 14th
When a little Black girl
Was brave in New Orleans

Her name was Ruby Bridges
Some called her Ruby Nell
She lived through segregation
And gained quite a story to tell

William Frantz Elementary
Would never be the same
It was no longer a White school
The day that Ruby came

On her first day of school
She was so strong and proud
She stepped boldly without stopping
Through fiercely threatening crowds

There were people filled with hatred
Who told Ruby to go back home
They did not want integration
They taunted Ruby to make it known

But little Ruby had protection
Her mother, US Marshalls, and her God
As she stepped into this new school
Her teacher, Ms. Henry, won her heart

Ruby was, sometimes, afraid
But she prayed and continued on
With her family, teacher, and community
She weathered integration’s storm

Ruby Bridges’ experience
Is a significant part of history
Her unwavering faith and courage
Resulted in what we now see

Schools all across America
Integrated and diverse
Children of every color and creed
Learning together, breaking the curse.

Copyrighted February 2012 Latorial Faison
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History III (2012)