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Respect the Sacrifice…


Hello All!  It’s February, the month of love and pro-blackness!  🙂 For me black history month is a time to reflect on the sacrifices made, both willing and unwilling, so we could have the freedom we currently enjoy.  The freedom to love, the freedom to learn, the freedom to prosper, the freedom to express thoughts openly, and the freedom to be black and beautiful were neither automatic nor expected.  Our ancestors took the thorns from their backside and used them to build bridges so we could walk over into greatness.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

The poem “Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall has always touched my soul, maybe because it speaks to the mother in me.  It also has a way of slapping me out of my complacent and content moments.  It reminds me that there is still work to be done because those who paid the ultimate price with their lives deserve much more from me, from you, from all of us.

Until our minds are as free as our bodies, we have not arrived.  Keep fighting for the change you seek!

ChUC

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Ballad of Birmingham

Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to play,
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?”
“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For the dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and jails
Aren’t good for a little child.”

“But, mother, I won’t be alone.
Other children will go with me,
And march the streets of Birmingham
To make our country free.”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead
And sing in the children’s choir.”

She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair,
And bathed rose petal sweet,
And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,
And white shoes on her feet.

The mother smiled to know that her child
Was in the sacred place,
But that smile was the last smile
To come upon her face.

For when she heard the explosion,
Her eyes grew wet and wild.
She raced through the streets of Birmingham
Calling for her child.

She clawed through bits of glass and brick,
Then lifted out a shoe.
“O, here’s the shoe my baby wore,
But, baby, where are you?”

 

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The 1st Day of National Poetry Month!!


It’s April 1st, the first day of National Poetry Month, so I decided to post one of my favorite poems. It was written by Dudley Randall (1914-2000), a poet and pioneer in African American book publishing. Since I am a poet/writer I can relate to the spirited tone of this poem. Enjoy!

A Poet is Not a Jukebox
A poet is not a jukebox, so don’t tell me what to write.
I read a dear friend a poem about love, and she said,
“You’re in to that bag now, for whatever it’s worth,
But why don’t you write about the riot in Miami?”

I didn’t write about Miami because I didn’t know about Miami.
I’ve been so busy working for the Census, and listening to music all night,
and making new poems
That I’ve broken my habit of watching TV and reading newspapers.
So it wasn’t absence of Black Pride that caused me not to write about Miami,
But simple ignorance.

Telling a Black poet what he ought to write
Is like some Commissar of Culture in Russia telling a poet
He’d better write about the new steel furnaces in the Novobigorsk region,
Or the heroic feats of Soviet labor in digging the trans-Caucausus Canal,
Or the unprecedented achievement of workers in the sugar beet industry
who exceeded their quota by 400 percent (it was later discovered to
be a typist’s error).

Maybe the Russian poet is watching his mother die of cancer,
Or is bleeding from an unhappy love affair,
Or is bursting with happiness and wants to sing of wine, roses, and nightingales.

I’ll bet that in a hundred years the poems the Russian people will read, sing and love
Will be the poems about his mother’s death, his unfaithful mistress, or his
wine, roses and nightingales,
Not the poems about steel furnaces, the trans-Caucasus Canal, or the sugar
beet industry.
A poet writes about what he feels, what agitates his heart and sets his pen in motion.
Not what some apparatchnik dictates, to promote his own career or theories.

Yeah, maybe I’ll write about Miami, as I wrote about Birmingham,
But it’ll be because I want to write about Miami, not because somebody
says I ought to.

Yeah, I write about love. What’s wrong with love?
If we had more loving, we’d have more Black babies to become Black brothers and
sisters and build the Black family.

When people love, they bathe with sweet-smelling soap, splash their bodies
with perfume or cologne,
Shave, and comb their hair, and put on gleaming silken garments,
Speak softly and kindly and study their beloved to anticipate and satisfy her
every desire.
After loving they’re relaxed and happy and friends with all the world.
What’s wrong with love, beauty, joy and peace?

If Josephine had given Napoleon more loving, he wouldn’t have sown the
meadows of Europe with skulls.
If Hitler had been happy in love, he wouldn’t have baked people in ovens.
So don’t tell me it’s trivial and a cop-out to write about love and not about
Miami.

A poet is not a jukebok.
A poet is not a jukebox.
I repeat, A poet is not a jukebox for someone to shove a quarter in his ear
and get the tune they want to hear,
Or to pat on the head and call “a good little Revolutionary,”
Or to give a Kuumba Liberation Award.

A poet is not a jukebox.
A poet is not a jukebox.
A poet is not a jukebox.

So don’t tell me what to write.

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