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 or James’s—curled around a pen. I do not know if these hands will be Rosa’s or Ruby’s gently gloved and fiercely folded calmly in a lap, on a desk, around a book, ready to change the world . . .
Brown girl dreaming; second daughter's second day on earth (p.3-5)
A little bit about the important figures mentioned in the poem
Dr. Martin luther king jr
Martin Luther King jr was a civil rights activist and an honorable minister. He peacefully fought against discrimination and racism through speeches and marches. One of his most famous speech, "I have a dream" inspired many people, both black and white on March on Washington. Unfortunately, Dr. Martin Luther King jr was assassinated in 1968.
Malcolm X was also a black rights activist and a minister. He tried his best to bring all the people to an equal level, getting rid of segregation. However, he believed in "all means necessary". This meant that he, unlike Dr. MLK jr, used violence to abolish racism. He also, sadly, was assassinated in 1965.
Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist. She protested against segregation in 1955 by refusing to give up her front seat to a white man in Montgomery City Bus. She was soon arrested, leading to the boycott of the bus company. She became famous for this protest.
Ruby Bridges was only six years old when she bravely protested against segregated schools by attending an all-white school. This was a very dangerous attempt. Many white parents took their children out of the school just because Ruby attended the same school. Four U.S Marshals had to escort Ruby to her classes because of the angry mob of people that genuinely threatened to kill her. Also, none of the teachers agreed to teach Ruby except for one warm hearted lady by the name of Mrs. Henry. Eventually, all the students in her class transferred out, but Mrs. Henry was devoted to teaching Ruby. Ruby Bridges truly inspired a lot of people with her courageous actions.
James Baldwin was a novelist and an essayist who wrote about race, equality, and humanity. He protested against racism by writing about his feelings.
The freedom singers
The Freedom Singers was a group of talented African American vocalists who sang about equality and racism, hoping their voices would be heard.