Ruby Bridges, First Black Child in a White School.
I’m posting a few past posts on extraordinary people of colour. #blacklivesmatter
By Uncredited DOJ photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Today’s blog is by the other fellow author of my book, Reaching for the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, the wonderful and talented Michaela Morgan:
The poem My First Day at School, by Michaela Morgan, commemorates Ruby Bridges, who, at the age of six, made the historic walk towards her local elementary school as the first black child to enter a school previously denied to black children.
She had to be marched in surrounded by US marshals to protect her from the angry mob, and for some time was the only child taught in the school, as other parents kept their children out of school rather than send them to a non-segregated establishment.
Ruby Bridges is now a grandmother. She continues to make her voice and presence felt in the fight for human rights.
My First Day at School
I remember . . .
Momma scrubbed my face, hard.
Plaited my hair, tight.
Perched a hopeful white bow on my head,
Like a butterfly hoping for flight.
She shone my shoes, black, shiny, neat.
Another hopeful bow, on each toe,
To give wings to my feet.
My dress was standing to attention, stiff with starch.
My little battledress.
And now, my march.
Two marshals march in front of me.
Two marshals march behind of me.
The people scream and jeer at me.
Their faces are red, not white.
The marshals tower above me, a grey-legged wall.
Broad of back, white of face and tall, tall, tall.
I only see their legs and shoes as black and shiny as mine.
They march along, stern and strong. I try to march in time.
One hisses to another, ‘Slow down it ain’t a race.
She only take little bitty girlie steps.’
I quicken my pace.
I march into school.
To learn like any other kid can.
And maybe to teach a lesson too.
© Michaela Morgan
Appears in Reaching for the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls.
If you’d like to read about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan.
The above facts and poem appear in Reaching for the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, Pub. Macmillan Books.
Image – Wikipedia