I Must Teach My Children!

black history1

I was not there to march from Selma to Montgomery.
No ‘colored only’ entrance sign do I see.
I never once sat at the back of the bus.
And no one has set the dogs on me.

Never was a cross burned in my front yard.
When did I ever see a lynching take place?
Why is it that I can walk in any door,
and believe that there is only the human race?

I sit here with tears welling up in my eyes.
Why do I cry when I had to read about Jim Crow?
I cry because of those who paid my dues for me,
so that what they knew, I should never know.

What must I do in memory of them?
How can I show them how thankful I am?
I must teach my children of their sacrifice.
And never let them forget every sacrificial lamb.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2015 Shelby I. Courtland

Because of all who went before me, I have benefitted from their sacrifice. I rant and rave at all of the injustices that remain to this very day. But what I need to do is to acknowledge that if it were not for those who stood like a wall, if it were not for those who refused to back down, if it were not for those who wanted their children to never go through what they had to, if it were not for those who went to jail so that I could vote, if it were not for those who refused to accept separate but equal when it was not, if it were not for those who boycotted the buses, if it were not for those that gave their life, I would not be where I am today. And even though they are no longer here to read this or to hear me, I thank them! I thank them, one and all!

We must never forget them and we must continue their legacy. Teach the children about them. May these sacrificial lambs never pass into obscurity and fade into the dusty annals of a long forgotten history.

20 thoughts on “I Must Teach My Children!

    • Toritto! AMEN! ..and a “Shout out!” to you as your blog was the inspiration for this one. I shed so many tears for:

      ‘Viola Liuzzo who died on March 25, 1965.

      “She was murdered by the Klan outside of Selma, Alabama.”

      Thank you for telling her story Toritto!

      Stay strong, my friend!
      Shelby

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  1. Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II and commented:
    Every last one of us should teach our children about those who sacrificed their lives for the sake and life of others, whether they were white, Hispanic, Asian or black. When it comes to human beings who have loved others more than their own lives, all of us should know of them and pass that knowledge on to the next generations.

    Shelby is an example of this. And I was moved by what she wrote here. This post is an example of the humility, gratefulness, love and mature wisdom that this troubled world needs so badly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sojourner, I am speechless and if I type any errors in this message, I am not going to correct them because I type this through a haze of tears. I read about Viola Liuzzo on Toritto’s blog and her story inspired this poem and subsequent words. Viola was a white woman, murdered by the Klan for helping Black people and she did not have to take up the cause of the Civil Rights Movement, but she did and for that, she was murdered.

      I realize that thus far through this Black History month, I have written much on the plight of Black people in America but there were many others who were not Black but who marched alongside Black people because they stood for justice and for fairness and for equality for all. They gave their lives; all of them so that I could sit in an office and so that when I walk into a store, I don’t see a sign designated for me. I don’t see a separate counter at a restaurant for me. There is no water fountain designated for me. If not for their sacrifices, where would we be? Surely not where we are now. Yes, we have a ways to go but thanks to them, we have come a LONG way!

      Thank you so much to all the unsung heroes that made it so that my life is much easier. I will never forget you, not one of you!

      …and thank you Sojourner for reblogging this one! I most sincerely appreciate it!

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      • I plan on reblogging Torrito’s post today.

        I also agree with HLJ’s comment. But with all the injustice and atrocities in this world, perhaps it’s good for us to take a few minutes, like you have in this post and comment, and be thankful that there are, and have been, people like these, to know we are not alone in this troubled world.

        And so it behooves us, in the ways that we can, to carry on what these people had continued, since there has always been a remnant, a minority, of people who couldn’t stand by while others suffered injustice after injustice.

        If we have no other hope, at the moment, then maybe these folks are a gift from the universe, to us, to bring us some peace, so that we may be refreshed for a while, and then carry on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sojourner, it is very sweet of you to reblog Toritto’s post! I am still teary-eyed over reading it and thinking about all that was endured by people of all stripes who took part in the struggle that is ongoing today.

        I do realize that hate and racism and bigotry and prejudice have not gone anywhere. But I felt the need to take this opportunity to show my love and gratitude to those who have gone before and tried to pave a way to a better life for us all. I cannot downplay their role in history and I will not.

        Do we have a long way to go? Of course we do. Only a newborn baby would be unaware of that. But we owe those who sacrificed so much for us, the recognition that they deserve and they WILL get it from me.

        Yes, we are still marching. Yes, we are still protesting. Yes, we are still suffering from poverty, from the war-on-drugs-us, from police brutality and the list goes on and on. But wherever we see injustice, we must call it out and those that perpetrate injustices against certain groups must not be allowed to get away with it. We have so much to do and we always will.

        But we must pick up the torch and carry on.

        Thank you for your comment Sojourner.

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  2. Ms. Shelby the tears have been welling up in my eyes since I can remember and not one tear has run down my face and hit the ground that wasn’t also filled with hope.

    You wrote of not seeing a cross burning nor a lynching, but I ask you to look a bit closer. The names are different, but the outcome and the aim remain the same. And I know you know this probably better than me.

    Peace sweetie you got me.

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    • I do know what you mean HLJ! Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, John Crawford, and the list goes on and on and on saw the light of the burning cross in the eyes of those that murdered them. They were also ‘lynched’, only in a different way but just as deadly. And I will not stop writing about the fact that we still have a ways to go. We all know that but we must still give recognition to those that gave their lives so that some changes took place. We know that we are nowhere near where we should be in terms of equality, freedom and justice but those who went before us did their part, did what they could. But, are we doing ours?

      Peace to you as well and I am glad to know that you got my back. It is reciprocated.

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  3. Thanks, Ms. Shelby. I meet people today who can hardly believe what it was like in the American South when many of us idealists ventured to Selma/Montgomery. I meet even more who do not, cannot, will not see that today’s police violence against blacks, the incarceration rate and ethnic make-up are the reality that Viola and James died to correct. We’ve a long way to go! You and your children are the link between the horror and the hope.

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    • Thank you DesertAbba for stopping by my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.

      My parents probably lived the horror. They never talked about it And even though my mother is still alive and continues to live in the south, she hates the very sight of white folks and makes no bones about it but she says that they are not going to run her from her home. When I was down south almost two years ago, I almost went mad and I don’t mean angry mad, I mean, straight jacket mad because I had to turn uncivilized because of that mess that is endemic in the south.

      I do understand that here, in America, there is nowhere to go to completely escape it, but I will pick my battleground and it ain’t gonna be at ground zero. I’ve gone through too much in the south and what I find hard to believe is that I managed to stay out of jail because I have never been one to bite my tongue and I admit that the only fighting that I have done in my entire life has been in the south. That mess down there is begging to get whacked. I had to leave and I’ll not set foot back there and that is clearly understood by all the family members that choose to remain in the south. They can have it.

      I could write a book on that crap but I’ll stop here. So, yes, ‘horror and hope’. We can certainly ‘hope’ for less ‘horror’ and try and pick up the torch from Viola, James and so many, many others and carry on! There is so much more that needs to be done.

      Again, I thank you for stopping by and for your comment.

      Hope your day is going well.
      Shelby

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  4. I, too, have benefited from the sacrifices of your ancestors. It was the courageous civil rights leaders of the sixties that inspired others to protest the Vietnam War and organize for women’s, gay and disabled rights. Before them, there were militant African Americans who taught and inspired white labor organizers to stand up to the goons, police, national guard and troops who the early robber barons sent out to break up their

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr. Bramhall, what happened to you was no picnic either. You had your life almost completely turned upside down and all you were doing was trying to help people and so you know what they were up against and what we are up against.

      You are a strong woman Dr. Bramhall and I am so glad that you got the hell up out of this mess and yet still, you try to help us in any way you can. I have learned so much from you and I hope to continue.

      And of course, Black people get no recognition for anything, good, decent, honorable, of meaning. We get recognized for going to jail for selling weed or looting a liquor store while the ‘white’ collar criminals never see the inside of a jail or prison cell; namely the Wall Street criminals that are engaging in money laundering, fraud and all things devious and criminal as I type this. But they’re too important to jail. At least that’s what they tell us and we are supposed to chow down on that and not choke on it. Well, I didn’t bite it. They can keep that bullshit samich!

      Thank you Dr. Bramhall. There is never any irrelevancy to any of your comments.

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  5. You know I had actually read Torrito’s post before I read yours. And so I had planned on reblogging his first. But your post moved me even more, so I reblogged it first.

    And I wondered as I read you post, the first time, if you had read Toritto’s yet.

    Funny, isn’t it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I gotta tell ya Sojourner, in some way, we are ALL connected! I truly believe that! And that is one reason why I continue on because we seriously need to understand this. It is the only way that we will defeat those who wish to oppress us all. Viola understood and even though that understanding cost her, her life, she refused to quit. She kept on going until the very end.

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      • Absolutely! I am no longer a religionist, but I still sense a synchronicity, some thing at work in all of us, that did not come about by chance and mutation. I think humanity once had faculties/powers that have long since been lost, they lay dormant somewhere inside our psyche, our soul, waiting to be brought back to life.

        And, although I struggle to have hope, there is something that continues to make me believe, even on the darkest days, that a united humanity could, as CSN and Y sang, ‘get us back to the garden.’ And I don’t mean some esoteric fairy-tale either, I mean a humanity that becomes one again, and regains the collective power to bring life back to this planet and each of us; a power that cannot be threatened or destroyed by those who hate and divide, in order to gain more power over others.

        And then… I turn away and wallow in my anger, frustration and depression. What a mess I am!

        Liked by 1 person

      • We are all a mess Sojourner! To be alive today with all that is going down is to be a mess over it!

        I just threw 8,000 fits over Tubularsock’s recent blog post so there! And believe this, you are NOT alone! Hang in there! That’s what most of us are doing! And most definitely include me in that!

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  6. “Because of all who went before me, I have benefitted from their sacrifice. I rant and rave at all of the injustices that remain to this very day. But what I need to do is to acknowledge that if it were not for those who stood like a wall, if it were not for those who refused to back down, if it were not for those who wanted their children to never go through what they had to, if it were not for those who went to jail so that I could vote, if it were not for those who refused to accept separate but equal when it was not, if it were not for those who boycotted the buses, if it were not for those that gave their life, I would not be where I am today. And even though they are no longer here to read this or to hear me, I thank them! I thank them, one and all!”

    Wow!! That was beautiful! 🙂

    Like

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