second daughter's second day on earth By Justin Scherer

My birth certificate says: Female Negro

“Mother: Mary Anne Irby, 22, Negro

Father: Jack Austin Woodson, 25, Negro

In Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr.

is planning a march on Washington, where

John F. Kennedy is president.

In Harlem, Malcolm X is standing on a soapbox

talking about a revolution.

Outside the window of University Hospital,

snow is slowly falling. So much already

covers this vast Ohio ground.

In Montgomery, only seven years have passed

since Rosa Parks refused

to give up

her seat on a city bus.

I am born brown-skinned, black-haired

and wide-eyed.

I am born Negro here and Colored there

and somewhere else,

the Freedom Singers have linked arms,

their protests rising into song:

Deep in my heart, I do believe

that we shall overcome someday.

and somewhere else, James Baldwin

is writing about injustice, each novel,

each essay, changing the world.

“I do not yet know who I’ll be

what I’ll say

how I’ll say it . . .

Not even three years have passed since a brown girl

named Ruby Bridges

walked into an all-white school.

Armed guards surrounded her while hundreds

of white people spat and called her names.

She was six years old.

I do not know if I’ll be strong like Ruby.

I do not know what the world will look like

when I am finally able to walk, speak, write . . .

Another Buckeye!

the nurse says to my mother.

Already, I am being named for this place.

Ohio. The Buckeye State.

My fingers curl into fists, automatically

This is the way, my mother said,

of every baby’s hand.

I do not know if these hands will become

Malcolm’s—raised and fisted

or Martin’s—open and asking

or James’s—curled around a pen.

I do not know if these hands will be


or Ruby’s

gently gloved

and fiercely folded

calmly in a lap,

on a desk,

around a book,


to change the world . . .”

Brown Girl Dreaming, Pg. 3-5

I chose this poem because it reminded me of all of the events that had led up to the African Americans becoming emancipated. People such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, and James Baldwin all participated in this movement of freedom and helped this problem become resolved, either through violence, or peace. Writing or singing. They all helped end this fight for freedom.

Martin Luther King Jr.

A freedom fighter who believed in a peaceful way to resolve the conflict between the African Americans and the White Americans. Born- January 15, 1929. Died- April 4, 1968

Malcolm X

A freedom fighter who believed in a violent way to resolve the conflict, he soon followed the peaceful path like Martin Luther King Jr. Born- May 19, 1925. Died- February 1, 1965

Ruby Bridges

An African American girl who attended an all white school. This sparked conflict between African Americans and White Americans in the subject of education. This started Brown v. Board of Education. Born- September 8, 1954

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks rejected a bus driver who had asked her to stand to create room for a white-passenger to sit. She had said no and was thrown in jail. This sparked a series of boycotts and strikes against the buses in this local area. Born- February 4, 1913. Died- October 24, 2005

James Baldwin

An African American novelist who wrote about discrimination in his plays, novels, and essays. Born- August 2, 1924. Died- December 1, 1987

All these regular people believed in a better future for our country and through that strong belief many of them came together to protest against the mistreatment of all people in the U.S.A

In this poem, Jacqueline Woodson is recapping the important events and people that had taken place or lived before her. Later through the poem she wonders what her future will be like.

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