Monday, October 12, 2009

A New Poem from Shirley A. J. Hanshaw

On October 3rd I had the pleasure of meeting two GTM contributors, Shirley A. J. Hanshaw and Adah Ward Randolph (pictured at left with me) . We shared a great panel discussion on Go, Tell Michelle at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in Cincinnati. About 25 individuals attended the session which I moderated and shared the "back story" of the book's inception and the experiences that Peggy and I have had as we've talked to audiences throughout the country. Both Adah and Shirley offered the context for their letters and read their contributions. Adah's anecdote of the Mother's Day situation that inspired her letter brought many of us to tears and was a graphic illustration of the deep well spring of experiences that Black women confront on a daily basis. Shirley read another poem that she'd authored that was too late for the original publication. She asked that it be shared on this blog and we are pleased to have the honor!

The Time Has Come, and I Can’t Wait

Lines written in anticipation of the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama and

First Lady Michelle Obama, 11/08

The time has come for

A new chapter to be written in American his-/herstory

For bells to be rung and

Songs to be sung

Heralding the fruition of

Hopes and dreams.

The time has come, and

I can’t wait for the Presidential Inauguration,

Bearing witness to the celebration of our

First Black First Lady

Strolling arm in arm and bumping fists with our

First Black President;

Our Bronzeville King and Queen, beaming to the

Screaming of the crowd.

I can’t wait for

President Barack Hussein Obama to be

Sworn in with the oath of office,

Taking his rightful place,

Perched on the precipice of time;

On the 55th anniversary of Brown v. Board

On the 100th anniversary of the NAACP

On the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln’s birth.

I can’t wait for your two little Black princesses,

Malia and Sasha, to inhabit their castle, with

Sleepovers and ice cream socials,

Scampering around the White House grounds with their promised puppy,

Playing make-believe in a real Dream House.

Like you, Michelle,

I am proud, for the first time, to be an American

Fulfilling the dreams of our fathers, mothers, and

“Other mothers”—sisters, babysitters, grandmothers, aunts, friends, neighborhood women—

Who cared for our children while we

Pursued careers, became co-breadwinners and breadwinners,

Walking in the proud ancestral footsteps of

All the nameless sheroes whose indomitable strength, hard work and

Belief in God brought us “thus far on the way.”

I can’t wait, Michelle, to see you and Barack

Striding, hand in hand, into

Our futures;

While the world gazes in wonderment

At your beauty and intellect;

Resplendent, radiant,

Reassuring the world that it is now in good hands.

I can’t wait, Michelle,

I can’t wait,

The time has come



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