People Like Me

Location

06824
United States
41° 11' 41.3592" N, 73° 17' 17.988" W

A month after I was born, in 1955,
Mother told me
Of the beginning of the bus boycott
Because a woman of color
Refused to give up her seat
To a white man.
And that was the year
Father stood and fought
For my rights.
And he went to jail
And the house was bombed,
But father won
To let me sit where I wanted
Because back then
People like them didn’t like
People like me.

When I was two, in 1957,
Father formed a group
To protest peacefully
Because he thought
What people like them believed
Was immoral.
And in that next year
Father got stabbed
And he led quiet protests
That mother told me I was too young
To ever remember properly.
But I still remember
How people like them used to treat
People like me.

In the early sixties
Between the ages of five and eight
Father led more movements
And I remember
Those lonely nights I would wait
For father to come home.
But Mother told me to sleep anyway
Because he was out working late
And would come home soon.
But I knew he was in jail again
For fighting for my rights
And my brothers’
And my new baby sister’s.
And it was then that I wondered why
People like them didn’t like
People like me.

And it was in that year of 1963,
That father gave his famous speech
And talked about his dreams
About how we were all equal
And should live in peace.
There was a march
And the people applauded his words.
It was then that I smiled
Because he was my father
And I knew he would protect us
And I was proud to be his daughter.
That was the year
I wanted to fight with him
To keep people like them from hating
People like me.

But then came 1965,
And “Bloody Sunday”
Brought tears to our eyes.
That was the year
I turned ten
And we got the Voting Rights Act.
It was also when I knew
That father was fighting for me
But that he was also
Fighting for everyone else
Because now some people like them
Were also fighting
For people like me.

And it wasn’t until April 4, 1968
In the year I was supposed to turn 13
That someone decided
My father should no longer live.
And the news used the word
Assassinated
As everyone mourned his loss
And that was the year
That Mother told me
To keep my siblings safe
And that someday they would understand
And Mother continued to help people
And I knew that I would do what I could
To keep people like them from oppressing
People like us.

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