Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leads civil rights activists on the last leg of their march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965. Photo by Bettmann / Contributor. Courtesy of Getty Images.
«In 1865, Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States. More than 150 years later, however, the promise of liberty and justice for all citizens remains elusive. Jim Crow laws passed by state legislatures between the 1870s and the 1950s established a formal system of racial segregation in the South. Racist housing policies, job discrimination, abuse by law enforcement, and negative stereotypes in popular culture pervaded all regions of the United States.
Between the mid-1950s through the 1970s, citizens engaged in a massive protest movement to fight for the rights and freedoms of all Americans. 1968 was pivotal in the civil rights movement, marked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the widespread riots that followed, and the passage of a new Civil Rights Act. The poems collected here revisit the heroic struggles of civil rights activists 50 years later. Poets influenced by the civil rights movement––a group that includes Margaret Walker, Nikki Giovanni, and June Jordan––used their work to instill a sense of pride in one’s identity, to praise freedom fighters and honor fallen leaders, to chronicle acts of resistance, and to offer wisdom and strength to fellow activists*.Continue a ler.
Miz Rosa Rides the Bus
That day in December I sat down
by Miss Muffet of Montgomery.
I was myriad-weary. Feets swole
from sewing seams on a filthy fabric;
tired-sore a pedalin’ the rusty Singer;
dingy cotton thread jammed in the eye.
All lifelong I’d slide through century-reams
loathsome with tears. Dreaming my own
It was not like they all say. Miss Liberty Muffet
jump at the sight of me.
They hauled me
away—a thousand kicking legs pinned down.
The rest of me I tell you—a cloud.
Beautiful trouble on the dead December
horizon. Come to sit in judgment.
How many miles as the Jim Crow flies?
Over oceans and some. I rumbled.
They couldn’t hold me down. Long.
My feets were tired. My eyes were
sore. My heart was raw from hemming
dirty edges of Miss L. Muffet’s garment.
I rode again.
A thousand bloody miles after the Crow flies
that day in December long remembered when I sat down
beside Miss Muffet of Montgomery.
I said—like the joke say—What’s in the bowl, Thief?
I said—That’s your curse.
I said—This my way.
She slipped her frock, disembarked,
settled in the suburbs, deaf, mute, lewd, and blind.
The bowl she left behind. The empty bowl mine.
The spoiled dress.
Jim Crow dies and ravens come with crumbs.
They say—Eat and be satisfied.
I fast and pray and ride.
Angela Jackson, "Miz Rosa Rides the Bus" from And All These Roads Be Luminous. Copyright © 1998 by Angela Jackson. Reprinted by permission of TriQuarterly Books.
Source: And All These Roads Be Luminous (TriQuarterly Books, 1998)