For me, women like Sojourner Truth(who’s quoted here) and Harriet Tubman are like warrior queens. These women who wanted freedom so much that they actually put in real work to obtain it. And to ensure that others had it and knew of its importance. When this poem hit my inbox, I just sat with it reading it repeatedly. There is something here that makes all of the slave narratives that I’ve read and taught a bit more personal. It is a mother’s loss, the cataloging of slavery’s effect on women and children and this month when so many mothers lost their children it made me remember how that feeling never truly leaves you.
The featured image is an actual picture of the Bagamoyo ruins in Tanzania. Thanks Nic!
“I can remember when I was a little, young girl, how my old
mammy would sit out of doors in the evenings and look up at
the stars and groan, and I would say, ‘Mammy, what makes
you groan so?’ And she would say, ‘I am groaning to think of
my poor children; they do not know where I be and I don’t
know where they be. I look up at the stars and they look up at
the stars!’” —Sojourner Truth
I think I see her sitting bowed and black,
Stricken and seared with slavery’s mortal scars,
Reft of her children, lonely, anguished, yet
Still looking at the stars.
Symbolic mother, we thy myriad sons,
Pounding our stubborn hearts on Freedom’s bars,
Clutching our birthright, fight with faces set,
Still visioning the stars!