Saturday, January 26, 2013

Teddy

A few years ago I was privileged to me one of the Freedom Riders who responded to Martin Luther King's challenge. In their honor I post my impressions of that time and those brave souls.

 
I was five
When I first rode the bus
From Detroit
To the South.
A brown bag with a change of clothes,
a cold biscuit in my pocket,
sitting in the back
pierced by strangers’ stares.
I sat as my mama told me to
still, quiet, my head held high.

First day of school
Straining to understand
The strange Southern tongue.
Scared of the laughing girls
and leering boys
I rode the bus way ‘cross town
to the black school.
Used books and broken desks waiting
For me, scared, but my head held high.

I rode the bus to Selma
where I marched til my feet were burning
like the fire in my heart,
the blood in my veins.
For justice
I rode that bus to Selma
With my head held high.

I rode the bus cross town
to the job that paid me slave wages
A hundred years past slavery’s end.
kowtowing to the white folks
Watching the boys that raped me
dance with their pretty wives
who looked through me
in my maids dress serving
fancy eats.
With my head held high 

I rode the bus to Eastern State.
The loony bin, crazy house,
Asylum
my heart was broken,
my spirit wounded,
my body tired and my mind so very sad.

But still, my head held high.


Now I ride the bus to Frankfort
where I tell the truth,
where I have my say,
and they dare not set me down.
Because all these years
I did not falter
I did not quit
I survived it all
With my head held high.

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