In July 2008, I participated in a youth theater project at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta called The Collision Project. Twenty high school students from the metro Atlanta area “collided” for three weeks and discussed topics of race and rebellion, writing on topics related to the “I Have A Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. A professional playwright then wrote a play entitled “Children of the Dream” using our writing. Looking back on them now, these writing samples sound a little cheesy, but I decided to post them anyway. We went to an exhibition of Civil Rights Photos at the High Museum and each wrote two poems based on two different photos we saw at the exhibit.
“Cleaning The Pool-St. Augustine, Florida”
Maybe enough chemicals will dilute this rebellion
And with the correct combination of bleach and chlorine
Their hair will be blonder
Their eyes will be bluer
Their skin will be paler.
Maybe enough chemicals will induce obedience and calm their frustrations
They will be placated and learn to accept a fate of unequal destiny.
Maybe enough chemicals will erode an entire cultural history.
And a struggle for life that has spanned several decades
will be erased with bromine and algaecides, seeping into and poisoning their minds.
Maybe when we’re all the same
When we all look, talk and act the same
The pathway will be paved for peace among mankind.
“Mr. & Mrs. Chris McNair”
A picture is not real, it is only a memory.
Sometimes, memories are not good enough.
We cling to it, for it is all we have left our our daughter.
Our daughter, who died at the hands of heartless murderers
In the name of their ignorance and hate.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then our first word is “why?”
Why did she have to die before her life had even begun?
Why has her existence been reduced to an 8” x 10” piece of paper?
Why wasn’t she given the chance to fix the mess created by her parents’ generation?
There are no answers because there is no reason
Only an excuse for the shattered pieces
We are left with to make whole.
And that excuse is fear shrouded with violence
That exploded on Sunday with vengeance and fury
In a place our family called home.