Poems & Stories Updated Quarterly
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  • Marching with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • From A Little
    Brown Girl
  • I Am A Man:
    Mr. Eugene Clemons

  • Macaja Revels

Marching with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
(Play Audio)

Strong in her wants from birth, Mattie called Sister is the baby girl
with parents and six others telling her who to be and what to do. 
When she became African in her dress, hair, and thoughts, well
we listened to make sure good sense was talking outta her young
Sister made like she was marching with Reverend King
and nobody better try stop her.

People forget that Reverend King’s voice was fed by millions of whispers. 
Black folks whispering across America, in the cotton fields
of southern towns.  In the factories of northern cities.
In prisons or in public.  In shotgun houses, tenement buildings and
projects, folks whispered
This ain’t right how we treated.

Reverend King’s voice gave sound to the tongues
of our grandfathers and grandmothers silenced by lynching,
segregation and the terror of Klu Klux Klan ghost riders.  His voice gave
sound to our fathers and mothers swallowing down racism and injustice
again and again.  This was the time when most were shut up or shut
down by fear.

Mattie said she was marching and as her middle sister,
I was marching too.  The march began like the Mississippi river in flood
season, folks spilling out everywhere.  Reverend King was far up front
with the “hoity-toities” and it was us, the hard working regulars
in the middle and the back.

His voice came in waves.  Freedom ran through our veins causing us
to march straighter and sing stronger.  Then we heard shattering glass. 
Screams burst as tear gas popped, spreading quickly when Memphis
policewaded into the crowd swinging wooden batons, whacking brains
and flesh.

The running began and we were pushed towards the Mississippi river.
Ithought we surely joining the ancestors at the bottom.  Sister grabbed
my hand and said we gonna make it.  Blood in the streets.  Folks limping
andholding broken body parts.  Paddy wagons stuffed with Black people.
We are no longer deaf or mute but loud in remembering these times.

Poems or Stories can not be reproduced in any manner without the written
permission of Fabu.

From A Little Brown Girl
(Play Audio)

Little brown ears heard up close
The Civil Rights movement
explained inside our home.
Mr. Clemons, fired sanitation worker
shared personal updates on the strike
connecting 1968 Memphis to 1955 Selma.
Daddy, career Army sergeant
ordered away from us to fight for freedom
for our country in Viet Nam.
Mommy, southern homemaker
gone into the streets to march for freedom
for our people in Memphis.
Little brown mind turning over and over
to understand
courageous parents and our country’s rejection.
Daddy left first
to a place I could only reach
with my bedtime prayer, God Bless Daddy.
Mommy said I could not march
along side of her
it was her time to fight, not yet mine.
Little brown eyes watched
soldiers in tanks on Easter morning
rumble through our neighborhood.

Fear was heavy in me
lose Daddy in a faraway war
lose Mommy in a war up close.
When the news came that Dr. King was murdered
Mommy’s screams changed me forever
I stood as a little brown girl and whispered
Please Jesus, Let Mommy and Daddy live
Dr. King is dead
You could have taken me instead.

Poems or Stories can not be reproduced in any manner without the written
permission of Fabu.

I Am A Man
(Play Audio)

we come out of Mississippi
seekin more life, good schoolin
money to enjoy
leavin “nig” and sharecroppin behind.
at first a Memphis city job was real good
best was the benefits
what i care i’m a garbage man
been cleanin after white folks a long time.
trotted eight hours behind a truck
white man at the wheel
better than a mule’s backside
and the chokin dust from dry fields.
city money didn’t stop growin shame
bile in my throat bein called boy
I AM A Man in 1968
I wanna drive that garbage truck too.
we call on Dr. King for help
with the stalled sanitation strike
he answered, we marched
folks were beaten then he was murdered.
Lawd have mercy
the price was high
for poor, Black, mistreated trash men
to have the equal right to drive a garbage truck.

Poems or Stories can not be reproduced in any manner without the written
permission of Fabu.

Macaja Revels
(Play Audio)

In Black Settlers in Rural Wisconsin
there is a notation that a Black man
Macaja Revels, born in 1800 on the Cherokee reservation
migrated to Dane county and  camped at a stream of water
eighteen miles north of the village of Madison.
Macaja traveled on to buy land elsewhere.

There is no record of physical description; light, dark or medium
what he accomplished or who his parents were.
In 1800, a Black man was both an oddity and invisible
but the land welcomed him.
The land was cheap, fertile with plenty
there was schooling for children and protection for escaped slaves
so Macaja could rest briefly.

Who remembers Macaja Revels, Black settler in the 1800’s
Who camped at a refreshing stream
Eighteen miles north of the village of Madison
but moved on, maybe knowing there would be no welcome in Madison.
Who remembers that Black people came to Wisconsin
to be free?

Poems or Stories can not be reproduced in any manner without the written
permission of Fabu.