South Carolina at War Jhanae ottey

South Carolina at War

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Because we have a right, my grandfather tells us -/ we are sitting at his feet and the story tonight is

Why people are marching all over the south -

To walk and sit and dream wherever we want.

They first brought us here. /Then we worked for free. Then it was 1863, /And we were supposed to be free but we weren't.

And that's why people are so mad.

And it's true, we can't turn on the radio/ without hearing about the marching.

We can't go downtown Greenville without/ seeing teenagers walk into stores,sitting/ where brown people still aren't allowed to sit/ and getting carried out, their bodies limp,/ their faces calm.

This is the way brown people have to fight,/ my grandfather says./ You can't just put your fist up. You have to insist/ on something/ gently. Walk toward a thing/ slowly.

But be ready to die,/ my grandfather says,/ for what is right.

Be ready to die my grandfather says,/ for everything you believe in

And none of us can imagine death/ but we try to imagine it anyway.

Even my mother joins the fight./ When she thinks our grandmother/ isn't watching she sneaks out/ to meet the cousins downtown, but just as/ she's stepping through the door,/ her good dress and gloves on, my grandmother says,/ now don't go getting arrested.

And Mama would sound like a little girl when she says,/ I won't.

More than a hundred years my grandfather says,/ and we're still fighting for the free life/ we're supposed to be living.

So there's a war going on in South Carolina/ and even as we play/ and plant and preach and sleep, we are a part of it.

Because you're colored, my grandfather says./ And just as bright and beautiful and free/ as anybody./ And nobody colored in the South is stopping,/ my grandfather says,/ until everybody knows what's true.

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This poem really spoke to me. I love her way of words as she discusses why people are marching. From this poem I learned that people are marching because the African Americans want to be treated equally as the whites. They don't want to be treated differently by society because of something that they can't control. They don't want separate but equal, they want together and equal.

Because you're colored, my grandfather says. And just as bright and beautiful and free as anybody. And nobody colored in the South is stopping, my grandfather says, until everybody knows what's true.
But be ready to die, my grandfather says, for what is right.
Be ready to die my grandfather says, for everything you believe in

This is the entire poem


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