Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Civil Rights Pilgrimage

In the Spring of 2009, I took a class and subsequent trip to discover our Civil Rights heritage and continuing journey. I have finally collected some of my writings from that tour and share them here...


“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.


I am in a fishbowl
wide bulbous eyes glare
but the glass separates
the glass
ostracizes glass
glass ceiling
glass wall demarking a segregated waiting room

I will never know how it feels
the sensation of
that particular brand of
of fury
passion erupting when he cried out


I looked through the glass
camera lens and
snapped a photo


The Ripple affects

It started with small hands and wide
Eyes looking
Looking for freedom for
A few grains of sand can
Change the tide
A few hands
Clap Clap Clapping out a foreign rhythm
An African beat the
Gospel percussion of a single dreamer
Battle cry of a generation
My sons and daughters cry out
For change change change

crying out like children often do
crying out like children with their
small hands balled in fists
small hands and wide eyes staring
small miracles
a revolution


Bloody Sunday

A man in a dapper black suit and bowler hat marches in front of me. He is seventy or more. I busy myself taking photographs, star-struck by dignitaries and yet here in my sight view, I also snap this frame, the outline of black bowler against so infamous a bridge and I wonder what was his story.

I don’t make a habit of talking to strangers. The very act makes my heart seize, the breath
Short. I’m not certain the source or reason for this fear. The look in his eyes. Haunting.
An opportunity missed for the connection, the immersion, I was so certain I desired.
The segregation is in me.


US-80 W

Driving, or well, riding, as the case may be, down this road from Selma to Montgomery is something of a trail of tears experience for me. I look at the two lane highway with its grassy median and try to imagine the rich soil beneath. This Black Belt – Lowndes County soil and the share-croppers who once picked cotton here, day in and day out. I stare down the road imagining the thousands of marchers making their way on a wide dirt road.
I see tent cities and determination. Conjure visions of the outstretched masses gaining to some twenty-five thousand by the time they reached Montgomery. They are singing freedom songs. In these individuals bound together is the richness of this Black Belt soil.

The kind of foundation of firmament from which good things can grow.


Archives at Ole Miss

A table littered with hatred mass-produced
mimeographed pamphlets demanding the right
God-given at times
to segregate and denigrate a people, a race

And we move closer to see their eyes
This darkness of skin pigment, other
subtle ways we separate

We move in to touch these
advertisements, an invitation to join the Klan
Slave records
N’ words
The audacity of Hate

How can this be overcome?