Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I have to major passions. Poetry and politics are two of the things in my life other than God and family for which I live and breath. My beloved sorority Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated founded in 1913 by 22 visionary college students is where I filter much of my passion for through social action and cultural arts. However, this passion was formed many years ago in the 4th grade. There are three women pivotal in my discovery of how I could write poetry and be politically/socially active.
Savannah Browning Smith was my teacher and she encouraged our class to write poems for a city-wide poetry contest. My poem was inspired by Mary McLeod-Bethune a warrior for education and civil rights wrote an essay “My Last Will and Testament” and written in a similar format. I earned an Honorable Mention Award, how I wish I knew where that poem was today. Also, this is when I discovered Gwendolyn Brooks, while I was wandering through the stacks at the Chicago Library – Cultural Center Branch. Ironically, this is where I first met her and she wrote her poem “The Pool Players. Seven at the Golden Shovel.” known to most a the “We Real Cool” poem out on a library program (of which I still have to this day).
It would be an injustice to try to take just snippets of their life and write, however here is the words by both that inspired me.
“MY LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT”
If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving.
Here, Then, is My Legacy…
I leave you love.
Love builds. It is positive and helpful.
I leave you hope.
Yesterday, our ancestors endured the degradation of slavery, yet they retained their dignity.
I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another.
This kind of confidence will aid the economic rise of the race by bringing together the pennies and dollars of our people and ploughing them into useful channels.
I leave you thirst for education.
Knowledge is the prime need of the hour.
I leave you a respect for the uses of power.
Power,intelligently directed, can lead to more freedom.
I leave you faith.
Faith in God is the greatest power, but great, too, is faith in oneself.
I leave you racial dignity.
I want Negroes to maintain their human dignity at all costs.
I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow man.
I leave you, finally, a responsibility to our young people.
The world around us really belongs to youth; for youth will take over its future management.
~ Mary McLeod Bethune ~
THE POOL PLAYERS.
SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.
We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
~ Gwendolyn Brooks ~