Category Archives: freedom summer

Remembering Medgar Evers Today – “A Prose for Medgar and Myrlie” by Nikki Skies

It landed on the kitchen table next to the watermelon.  Like a Sunday newspaper on Thursday.  Set aside for recycling.  Or an abandoned spoon after dessert. It sat there foreign but familiar.  Like an African American in America.

The carousel sang loudly. Drowned out the relief of parental duties.  Playful screams resonated the atmosphere.  Cotton candy decorated white faces pink and blue. Mustard stains on white t-shirts. Scraped knees caused by unattended shoelaces. The day was glee and the night carefree, as flying gravel spun under running feet.

Her bladder was full of miles like her mother’s.  She watered the ground with chocolate auburn.  The spices enticed the clouds to cry and capture the streets.  She met him where the sun sat in the fire pit.  He kissed her hand to summons a feather so she wouldn’t doubt his words.  His eyes were complete like the turn of an owl’s head.  The preacher announced their commitment where roads met corners with mirrors.  He hung their picture in a birdcage to catch time.  He told them not to be afraid.

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The first season spread the hours like a bridge. He supplied water to dry, fallen branches daily.  Believers of the unseen.  She carried unicorns in her pockets.  They wore audacious yellows and greens in a black and white world.  Demanded freedom like 8 a.m. school bells.  Unbalanced as thick as unjust.  At night she placed sweet onions on his eyelids. He remained rooted.  His tongue poignant from the aroma.

Dog’s were death’s best friend.  Hydrants absent from fires.  Hoses present at protests.  Tilted buses full of spiritual songs.  Northern boys with fresh fists. Southern boys with patched will.  Northern girls with golden intuition. Southern girls with ancient maps.  Laughter extinct.  Spit like rain. Freedom rides. Spirits flew. Red summer. Blue years. Freedom wide. Hatred tall. Black bodies hung/ burned/ mutilated. Daylight tardy.

Soprano saxophone accompanied her screams.  Vibrato in her hands.  His head in her lap.  His eyes meeting her’s was the prize. “Sit me up, turn me loose.” Abandoned from forever. She sat him up. Erect as pillars.  Baroque rocked. Down. She sipped tea in China.

Scores for his name. His verses rhymed her forward.  Her passion sweet as fruit. Seasoned. Made days wet cement. For imprints. Slops. Hills. Concrete with purpose. His remembrances sleep at our feet.

 

a prose from the book,

Mississippi Window Crack

Autographed copies available here

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a Prose for Fannie Lou Hamer’s

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She stood by the bedside of Jordan.  A lotus.  Feet grown from delta mud.  She was creation.  Exploded from chaos.  A holistic believer.

Ruleville, Mississippi.  Crooked state.  Chosen land.  Eternal cost.  Chosen woman.  Creased face.  Her memory wavers like an untuned church organ.

If you see her.  Tell her you remember.  Her protected skin that matched night.  Unafraid.  Sleep patterned to that of bats.  Called upon.  Like Nut and Shu.  To uphold the heavens.  Keep young mouths breathing.  When tempted to swallow swollen faith.  She followed the dust and escaped through the vents.

Continue reading a Prose for Fannie Lou Hamer’s

The Making of Mississippi Window Cracks

(the prologue to Mississippi Window Cracks written in 2006)

A few years ago I decided that after all the books and movies I had read and seen related to the civil rights struggles and the state called Mississippi, it was time to take a visit.  I arranged to spend a few days in Jackson, Mississippi, with a colleague of mine so I could walk the land that enveloped the energy of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Margaret Walker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Emmett Till and the streets of the infamous “Freedom Summers”.  My time there was filled with meeting civil rights heroes that are still alive, pouring libation on slave plantations, visiting museums and other historic sites, relaxing on the porch fanning flies until the sunset, and of course the southern cuisine.

One morning, my friend declared she knew the best place in town for a good bowl of grits.  Upon arriving at the cozy, corner diner downtown, she turned the car off and told me to put a crack in the window.  I told her that living in Los Angeles, people really didn’t do that but I remember it from growing up in Kansas City, Mo. Effortlessly, she rolled a crack in the driver’s side window.  I followed hastily already tasting the buttery grits in my mouth.  She turned and looked at me then spoke with hesitance in her voice.

“What’s that?”, she asked.

“What’s what?”

“I thought you were going to put a crack in the window.”

“I did.”

“That’s a crack?,” she asked sarcastically.

Now feeling totally self conscious I affirmed, “Yeah, this is the kind of window crack I used to do in the summertime in Kansas City.”

“Well this ain’t Missouri, this is Mississippi!  You better put a bigger crack in that window as hott as it is out here!”

I gave the handle on the window a few more turns to open it up.

She encouraged me, “A little more.”

I carefully cranked it until I gained her nod of approval, “Like this?”

“Yeah!  Now that there is a Mississippi window crack!”

The funny part about this story is how serious it got!  It was almost a borderline argument.  But as we walked in the diner, we laughed and joked how that would be a good title for a poem and who was going to write it first.  Well, here is my book of short stories that chronicle the tales fed to me through the trees, music, and people I met during my time spend in Jackson.  Instead of vacationing in the Bahamas or Paris, take a visit down in the deep south to a part of history, your history, our history.  You ever heard the saying, “There’s the United States and then there’s Mississippi?”  It’s the truth!  Go feel it for yourself!

with love,

nikki skies

PS – The grits were delicious!

Mississippi Window Crack

Get your autographed copy here!

When We Arrived presents: “Medgar’s Last Words” by Jolivette “The Poet Warrior” (video poetry post)

 

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Jolivette Anderson-Douoning is an Interdisciplinary scholar whose research is grounded in the Humanities and Applied Professions disciplines. 
Also known as Jolivette Anderson ‘the poet warrior’, she is a Race and Culture Educator who uses “Third Space Theory” to develop teaching and learning experiences that facilitate greater understandings of Black cultural existence and experience in the United States.
She is a Phd student and research assistant in American Studies / Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University. Her current research examines the purpose and relevancy of Black Cultural Centers between 1965 to 1995 and interrogates the future of BCC in a post – Obama United States of America.
She has four recordings of poetry and prose: Love and Revolution UndergroundAt the End of a Rope in MississippiJolivette Live: A Bluesy Funk Life Cycle, and She Energy.
For bookings and additional information thepoetwarrior@icloud.com or DrJolly2015@gmail.com 

 

 

 

water the trees today.

votecollage

You don’t have to take a literacy test.

You don’t have to take a brown paper bag test.

You won’t be followed to the polling place by klansmen in sheets.

Give thanks.  Thank you Medgar.  Thank you Fannie Lou.  Thank you Freedom Summers.  Thank you Bob Moses.  Thank you to so many people and souls…

I choose to be a gardener today and make the ground and trees proud by Voting.

Freedom Summer 50 Years Later

I’m sure it related to them wanting to feel human. Or perhaps be recognized for breath. That stuff that holds shoulders high and chins parallel to horizons. Yearning for something opposite of sleeping with one eye open. The word next to God was “freedom”. If we re-member correctly, it still should be.

On the heels of so many other campaigns such as Little Rock’s desegregation of schools. After the world saw the body of Emmett Till. After the Montgomery bus boycott. After the sit-in’s in Greensboro and Nashville. After the Birmingham bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church and the infamous March on Washington. Stood Mississippi… gotdamn. The campaign known as Freedom Summer began the planning phases in February of 1964. It continued the original demonstration designed by the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee that organized a mock “Freedom Vote” to illustrate the will of Black Mississippians to vote who had a 5% voting rate for African Americans over the age of 18. (The lowest in the country.) Freedom Summer campaigned an attempt to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi and also organize Freedom Houses, Freedom Schools, and resource centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population.

freedom summer

Continue reading Freedom Summer 50 Years Later