Selma

the_obamas_and_the_bushes_continue_across_the_bridge

By Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

To the bridge they marched, making the decision

though they knew it was risky, in Selma they marched.

They wanted their rights, after years of derision,

struck with clubs and tear gas, they were bloodied and parched.

 

Though they knew it was risky, in Selma they marched

the judge ruled, in court, saying they could march on

struck with clubs and tear gas, they were bloodied and parched,

soon they walked on to Montgomery from evening to dawn.

 

The judge ruled, in court, saying they could march on,

they’d been delayed in Selma, but they were not broken,

soon they walked on to Montgomery from evening to dawn

their stories now heard, their stories now spoken.

 

There have been lakes of sorrows, and lakes of tears,

they wanted their rights, after years of derision,

but a stand must be taken, despite many fears,

to the bridge they marched, making the decision.

 

This is a Pantoum for Secret Keeper’s Writing Challenge.

In a pantoum, the second and fourth lines become the first and third lines of the next stanza, and the poem ends with the first line.

The prompt words were: Broke/Judge/Story/Bridge/Lake

 

The protesters in Selma were marching for civil rights, including the right to vote, as black voters were disenfranchised by various “tests,” poll taxes, and intimidation. State Troopers beat nonviolent protesters as they attempted to cross Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. The day became known as Bloody Sunday. Edmund Pettus, for whom the bridge was named in 1940, was a Confederate general, a U.S. Senator—and a Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. The Selma to Montgomery march began on Sunday, March 21. The marchers reached Montgomery on Thursday, March 25. I took some poetic license with “evening to dawn.”  President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on August 6, 1965.

See “The Racist History Behind the Iconic Selma Bridge”

And “Selma-to-Montgomery March

 

 

 

 

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33 thoughts on “Selma

  1. A timely reminder of remarkable days. I read the definition for pantoum, which must have involved some serious mental calisthenics. I wonder how long you worked on this, Merril. (Don’t say 10 minutes – ha!)

  2. I’m so afraid this part of our (my) history will be lost. Thank you for keeping it alive. It seems at this point in our history these stories of courage and commitment to an ideal are more important than ever.

    • Thank you, Janet. I think so many people know so little about history and also about how our government works (including DT). I was thinking about that is one good thing about historical novels and movies. Even if not everything is totally accurate, at least more people learn about the events. I was thinking of the movie from last year about Selma and the upcoming movie on the Loving case.

  3. The March in Selma was part of so many stories linked together of a fine man who tried to lead us (our country, our world) to find our hearts. Merril, was such a beautifully written and touching poem.
    “Lakes of sorrows and lakes of tears” as well as “years of derision” are such meaningful words. ❤

  4. you use this particular form to great effect, meshing it with the content…the repetition reflecting the activist struggle that consists so much repeating actions with the same message until…maybe it gets through; the somber, persistent tone keeps pace with the rhythm.

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