Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Poets and Poems: Gwendolyn Brooks’ ‘Selected Poems’

My childhood was 1950s and 1960s New Orleans, during the last hurrah of segregation. I often rode the buses with my mother, who hated to drive into the city, and I learned area which section of the bus we were to sit in. The suburban movie theaters, smaller versions of the big palaces on Canal Street, had two segregated sections – downstairs and the balcony.  If I needed a drink of water when I accompanied my mother to the A&P supermarket, I was directed to the water fountain designated “white.”

Children, especially Southern children, didn’t question their parents. For me, the questioning didn’t happen until I was 14, preparing to enter high school. The schools in our New Orleans suburb had integrated the year before, with enough violence to require the presence of federal marshals and local police every day. My parents began to search for every option imaginable to avoid sending me to the public high school. I finally told them no. I was going to the public high school, regardless of what concerns they had.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

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