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Forward: What Black History Means To Me

For me, Black history is about honoring all our ancestors from previous generations, as well as the hard work they have done to give us the opportunities we have today. Whether that’s talking about historical figures who have changed the lives of Black people everywhere, or remembering relatives from our own personal families. I think of all the previous generations in my own family, and how they’ve played such an important role in creating the opportunities and experiences I’ve attained up to this point in my life. With this poem, I wanted to reflect on how I follow in the tradition of my family members before me, working towards creating a better future for those who follow me. I think the garden is a great metaphor for this idea, as it is a space that takes a lot of time and effort to maintain, yet through that care can bear all sorts of fruit. In this poem, I want to pay homage to all the members of my family who have made my life possible. Both those who I know now, and those who I will never know. 

The river’s churning stream
Brings life
Into the garden

It is the garden
of your mother’s mother
And hers before her
And hers before her
And further back than you remember

There, ancestors who you will never know
faces lost in the mist of memory
Channel tumultuous waters
Into still ponds
Watering the first seeds 

Their paths are etched
Into the soil of the garden
Lessons learned
Battles fought and won
Cultivate burgeoning crops

Your hand moves as theirs once did
Following spoken teachings 
Kept alive by your mother’s tongue
Guided by wisdom
You will one day call your own

And each before you
And those before them
Have worked in this garden
And it IS work
Plucked masses of angry weeds
In the waves of summer heat
Waded through the mud
In the wailing downpour of winter storms

Until the sky breaks
Sunlight shines on your hard work
Dew glistens on the new growth

With time
Buds flower and turn to fruit
Freshly plucked from the branch
You finally enjoy the product of your labor 
Under pearl white clouds dotting clear sky

But you never forget that fruit
Is the product of the labor of
Who came before 

You sit among the flower beds
Hoping that in the garden of
Those who will come after you
The soil will be a little richer
The planters, a little deeper
The fruit, a little sweeter

And that when they taste it
They taste the work of all those
Who have come before them
Just like you have

From that fruit
Planting the seeds
For all those who follow

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