Last year someone sent me a video of a little boy reciting a poem I wrote years ago called "Remembering a Life," which was written in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., and that made me feel good. Today my Google Alert sent me a news story that says a child read another of my poems "Behind the Color Blind" at a Martin Luther King, Jr. event in Wilkes County, North Carolina.
The same "color blind" poem was used in 2008 as well at an anti-racism event at the University of Kentucky and at a school program in Canada. Furthermore, I've seen it used in papers and posted at other websites.
I remember the first time I learned someone had selected one of my poems to read at an event, I was happily surprised. A student at Oregon State read one of them where students were reading other poems by "influential" black women such as Nikki Giovanni. I still don't know which of my poems the student read, but certainly I was humbled to be included with Ms. Giovanni, but I feel it may have been either "Color" or "You Know Why He Beat You" because those poems were getting lots of web hits back in 2006.
Every now and then I check the web to see what poems have gone beyond me. When people recite my poetry, I'm reminded of my mother who made me memorize poems to recite at events while I was growing up. For a while I recited James Weldon Johnson's "The Creation" at multiple events, including the state conference for the United Methodist Church. It was the first time I spoke to a large group of mostly white people. I had spoken to smaller integrated groups before that in school and larger all black groups. I think I recall the racial make-up of these groups because during the 70s in the South, blacks and whites were still getting used to meeting each other in integrated groups. I wonder what my mother would say about this poetry news today.