second daughter's second day on earth

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

orJames'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...

Created By
Genevieve Fricklas


Created with images by runneralan2004 - "Martin Luther King Memorial" • WikiImages - "man african american black"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.