Dec 20, 2009

Lessons from "A Raisin in the Sun"

December 19-20, 2009
Watched "A Raisin in the Sun" while snowed in -- the original film version. Never will get enough of this Lorraine Hansberry masterpiece. Hansberry knew the aspirations, frustrations, temptations, and jubilations of her people in this country. Even knowing the film well, my heart was pounding with anticipation. This is what I want to teach my minority students: know the aspirations, frustrations, temptations, and jubilations of your families in this land of America. Watch, listen, learn, grow, give. Let's teach our young people that. We don't serve them well when we don't share with them their own history. I have many favorite lines from the film, not the least of which is: "He came into his manhood today." I almost broke down when Claudia McNeil spoke that line, gushing with pride and certainty. (Black men and black women can disagree -- even fight, yet STILL hold each other up.)

Jul 2, 2009


They are talking about you all the time now. More than before. Every TV station. They seem so surprised at your superiority, your humanity, your grace. Where have they been? We have loved you, MJ. I'm sorry you couldn't have lived closer to us, so we could have held you, smiled at you, let you lean on us. We have loved you continuously, unwaveringly, we have believed in your goodness. How can you be gone? How can we be in this world without you?

Jan 31, 2009


This is for Sam Cooke,
who believed a change was
gon' come.

This is for James Brown,
who put it out there
so we could say it loud.

For King,
who warned
that we couldn’t wait.

This is for
the pickers,
the washers,
the scrubbers,
the grinders.

This is for
Grandmas and Granddaddies,
and for preachers who held up
the blood-stained banner
as a shield,
a promise.

This is for our
Ma and Daddy
and yours,
who made us love black
and showed us there was
no place we didn't belong.

This is for my Aunt Pauline,
who dependably called
all her nieces to alert us
whenever there was
“a colored girl on
Wheel of Fortune.”

This is for
Mr. Edgar A. Smith,
Mr. Ridgely Gray,
Miss Banks,
Miss Dessie,
My Aunts --
the Teachers.

And it’s for
Principal Beatrice Henson,
Miss Hallman,
Mr. Conway,
Miss Harris,
who every year went all out
for Negro History Week.

This is for my
U.S. History students,
who really needed a win.

This is for
all those lynched,
all those beaten,
all those spat on,
all those turned away.

This is for
Ray Charles: The Genius,
and Stevie Wonder-ful,
for wearing their soul
right on the outside.

This is for
Miss Gwendolyn Brooks,
O.B. Jr.,
and all of them who
gave us the words
to be bold.

This is for Africa,
for Africa, for Africa,
who cried out,
who held on,
who didn't let go.

This is for those who know.

And it's for those who don't --
and probably never will,
but might, maybe one day --

Avis Matthews ©2009