Meaningful Living in the Hashtag Age

Posts tagged ‘pride’

We Will Vote!

Check out my latest poem, We Will Vote! I wrote this while I stood in line for over five hours to vote during the first day of early voting in Louisiana. There were hundreds of people standing with me. It was inspiring and well-worth the wait. #makeaplantovote #wewillvote

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we heard you

U.S. Representative John Lewis we heard you

Reverend Dr. William Barber we heard you

First Lady Michelle Obama we heard you

Your voices sung like wind chimes on a still and lonely night

Chattered like the hate that rose against us

Stuttered like hymns hovering above the cotton fields

Your forceful words swung like tattered rope around a lynching tree

Tarnished leaves with blood and tears

Unscathed ground tested by hate and fear

You called us out of idealistic virtue

Where fairness thrived and no color dwelled over man like God

Where rights were assured, and voting was revered as an act of civility and pride

You rocked us from our comfy places to our rightful position

Your words carried us to the warring ground

Stirring us to stand guard over what is sacred to a blessed life

We heard the echo of your crying souls

Banished for its impassioned quest to seal our fate of liberty

We heed the call to move forward and stand firm

We replicate your solid demand to know who we are and why we fight without fault or fear

Martin, we heard you say, “Give us the ballot”

For in the belly of the ballot box are the gems of democracy this land stands for

We believed your conviction and live to make your dream our rallying cry

John, we heard your call to act

And now our commitment is to “get out there and push and pull until we redeem the soul of America”

Your words exemplified your greatness and a stern eye of righteousness

You were a force to be reckoned with

Reverend Barber, we heard your demands

A push for unity from a true Conductor of Peace

“Forward together” we march. “Not one step back!”

Your words embody our fight to fill the coffers of those in need

Despite what the wealthy claim is there’s

It is why we move in unison, hand-in-hand towards equality and justice

Michelle, we heard you sing proud and loud

Words now imprinted on our minds, “Vote like our lives depend on it!”

You spoke to a generation of youth

Pushing for the seeds of justice to be our proudest possession

Teaching grace to angels with warring souls who needed you most

And now we stand, side-by-side, soul-by-soul waiting for our turn to strike a fatal blow to what threatens to make our freedoms no more

We heard you and we accept this challenge

We embrace the dream you set forth into the wind, the purpose of your mission and the thunder behind your words

You stood for us; we stand strong with you

We will vote like the day has no promise of a dawning sun

Like the rights of all men have slung stars into the sky and created the bond that holds our universe together

We will vote because those who died in the blistering cotton fields could not

We will vote because our patient soldiers for peace marched, sat and endured jail to see us through

We will vote like our lives are tied to every ballot, even when our rights are being auctioned to the lowest bidder

We will vote because your words are burning in our soul and drumming songs of victory awakening the better angel in us all

We heard you. NOW, WE WILL VOTE!

By Michelle D. Jackson

The Courage to be Kind

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Me and my mother, the late Ernestine Daniel

I’m a Southerner at heart. The more I travel the world, the more I accept this fact. That may not mean anything to most people but to me it is a badge of honor and a distinctive factor for who I am and what drives me.

As an African-American, the connotation is often negative because of the South’s history. Images of civil rights leaders marching arm-in-arm and the impact of Jim Crow laws on defining race relations is what people often expect me to never forget. And I haven’t. But those experiences, even as tragic as they were, can not erase the pride I feel in being from the South.

My favorite memories of growing up in Alabama involved my family. I was raised in a small, working-class community by a single-mother. For over 30 years she worked the same job, raised four kids on less than $12 an hour and tried to instill in us a sense of integrity, courtesy and faith in God. She had a humility that you often saw in the Deep South – one that was not tarnished by the harsh realities of segregation and her own struggles to overcome poverty.

But in spite of her circumstances, my mother’s most important lesson to me was to always respect others. I often hear her say, be polite, Michelle, always say excuse me and treat others how you want to be treated.

For years it was a simple request. But as I got older my own realities chipped away at my ability to put my best face forward. I could blame a lot of things, like the four years I spent in college as the only minority in many of my classes or the ten years I toiled away in the male-dominated commercial real estate industry where I struggled to have my ideas heard. Kindness became harder to deliver as time went by.

Nice people often get left behind. In the corporate world, being kind is a sign of weakness and generosity, especially in the mean streets, can get you hurt. I learned this the hard way as I moved throughout the U.S. My exposure to new people in different situations made my mother’s ideas about kindness contrite and meritless. As a result, I became tougher and fearless; more opinionated and easily aggravated. I began to believe that it was too difficult for me to be rational when others were not.

But one day I looked in the mirror, forced myself to remember my mother’s teachings, her life experiences and the kindness she showed others until the day she died. That day, I reaffirmed within myself that my upbringing, my respect for those that fought before me but maintained a kind spirit and my desire to discover all that is sweet in this world made it impossible for me to be anything less than kind.

So in my Southern-accent I walk the halls of my job wishing everyone a good morning. I try hard to look the other way when cars cut me off on the road and I smile even when others are not. Although kindness isn’t just a southern-thing, it is my way of saying thank you to my mother for her humility and showing pride in all she taught me.

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