LANGSTON HUGHES TRIBUTE ISSUE
Remica L. Bingham
MY MOTHER RECALLS PROTESTS
Not the news of it:
how the city would level the three-tiered
building where six
of her siblings marched in burgundy caps and gowns—all bought
with quarters her mother set aside each week.
But the actual movement:
students bused away from their homes
and Champs Restaurant
across the street—the red grand-opening ribbon cut by Ali, after
shaken hands and thrown air-jabs, running through their auditorium.
Not the way they came:
hundreds of high school kids storming
black middle schools.
Their marching like thunder, their pouring through halls
and classrooms like summer rain after drought.
But the way children followed:
battling teachers then climbing through
Their stride—like Daniel’s into the lion’s den.
Every student rising
from a desk or swing set an Elijah called away to peace.
Not the sight of those she knew:
her friend Michael—whose bible-toting
mama chased him down the street
after hearing he’d cut school then had the nerve to stand in
City Hall chanting Hell no! We won’t go!—on the
six ‘o clock news.
But one boy no one recognized:
who—instead of shouting in
unison with the crowd—ran screaming, shaking
like a man consumed with fire. His distorted face clouding the camera,
his high-pitched refrain: Where else can we go? What else do we
Remica L. Bingham is the Writing Competency
Coordinator at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA. She earned an
MFA from Bennington College and is a Cave Canem fellow. Her work has
been published in New Letters, Callaloo, and Gulf
Coast. Bingham's first book, Conversion, won the Naomi
Long Madgett Poetry Award and was published by Lotus Press. A book of
her selected poems, The Seams of Memory, was translated into
Arabic and published in 2010 in conjunction with the Kalima Project.
in Volume 12, Number 1, Winter 2011.