Friday, January 10, 2014

Headline Poem 1/10/14 -- Woolworth's February 1, 1960

(Photo credit PBS)

In the news today, Franklin McCain, one of the "Greensboro Four," has passed away. On the Smithsonian National Museum of American History it is stated, "On February 1,1960, four African American college students sat down at a lunch counter at Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina, and politely asked for service. Their request was refused. When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. Their passive resistance and peaceful sit-down demand helped ignite a youth-led movement to challenge racial inequality throughout the South." This led to a six-month-long protest that eventually led to the desegregation of the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter on July 25, 1960. In honor of McCain, and the three other Greensboro young men who took a fearless stand toward segregation and injustice, I write today's headline poem.

Woolworth's February 1, 1960

college students hungry for some food
freshmen situated halfway between manhood and the world
no fear that day in 1960 when they sat upon the stools
left hungry because of their skin, bright stomach colors, gurgling hues

fifteen seconds after sitting down, invigorated, invincible, liberated
a natural high, unafraid, unaware of what they were about to do
told no food, night stick present, tap, tap, tap, warning, tension grew
non-violence.

older white woman watching the whole thing walks up and whispers
"boys, I'm so proud of you," lesson learned --
do not judge until you've had an opportunity to talk,
Harper Lee knows, Atticus knows --climb around in his skin and walk around in it
same year, different voice

Woolworth's closed for the night, do not go home and fight
more the next day -- 20, then 300, then Winston-Salem, Asheville, Durham, Charlotte
sit-ins lead to positive change, did it start on a dare?
inability to comprehend living a life of segregation
four young men, influencing more, six months later, all can be fed at the counter
hunger no more?

Richmond, McCain, Khazan, McNeil
bigger than these boys, McCain is the second one to go
54 years later
The Greensboro Two
we thank you