Archive for January 16th, 2017

16
Jan
17

#GoodTrouble

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Jacqueline OBoomer

The boy from Troy

It was more as though
He were recounting a dream
And I cried like a little child does
After experiencing a bad dream
When I heard John Lewis
Speak to those assembled
At the My Brother’s Keeper event
In Miami on Dr. King’s birthday.

He spoke of his youth
Working the family farm
In rural Alabama
When he prayed with his Bible
When he preached
” … to the chickens …
who listened to me better than
some of my colleagues in the
House of Representatives, today”
And everyone in the room laughed.

He spoke of his journey
Through school
And about the teacher who admonished,
“Read! Read!”
And how eventually he met
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And introduced himself as
John Robert Lewis
And how Dr. King called him
“The boy from Troy.”

I cried when he spoke
Almost as though it were a dream
Of his journey
Working with civil rights activists
Sitting in the “White Waiting Room”
When the Klan attacked them
In my lifetime
How one of the men who had beaten him
That day
Came to his office at the Capitol Building
Decades later, to apologize
And the former Klansman started crying.
And Congressman Lewis repeated
“Hate is too heavy a burden to bear”
As Dr. King had said.

“Never give up
Never give in
Stand up
Speak up
You have a moral obligation
To do something and
Not be quiet,”
He said.

John Robert Lewis said A. Philip Randolph
Had told them, speaking of the slaves
And the slaveholders,
“We’re all in the same boat, now.”
We are one people, one family,
We all live in the same house
The American house.

“Stay in school
Study
Read! Read, my child!
Use your education
Thank your teachers
Register to vote,”
He said.

And then John Lewis told
Those who heard him at the
My Brother’s Keeper event
And reminded me, while I was crying
That when he was 23 years old
In my lifetime
He joined Dr. King
At the March in Washington in 1963
And President Kennedy had invited them
To the White House
And it was only
Months before Kennedy was assassinated.

And he talked about Selma
And how he had brought
Something to read
In case he went to jail.
And something to eat
In case he went to jail.
And how they had asked
The State Troopers
If they could kneel in prayer
Before the State Troopers
Took them to jail
After they had beaten them.

“I wish you well
Go for it, just go for it
People are praying for you
Stay away from violence
Never hate,”
He said.

Today when we heard him
It was like a dream
And all we could do was cry
With tears of
Incredible and
Unexplained longing
For the days when
So much was won
By “the boy from Troy”
And those who taught him what
Good trouble
Meant.

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16
Jan
17

MLK Day: The Fight Ahead

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