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Poets Corner

Aunt Jemima

The setting: The Board Room of The Hartford Stage 1951.

Present: Board Members, all white men and one Black woman, Gwen Reed. She takes over.

 

GWEN

I am humbled to accept your appointment of me

To your Board. Humbled and assertive I stand

To tell you of something I saw last night in Harlem

A play produced by the Committee for the Negro

And the Arts at Harlem’s Club Baron

A play by one William Branch called Medal for Willie

 

Willie was a colored service man in World War 3

Two of course I mean, 3 is yet at hand

He is being honored after his death in that Bedlam

The first scene ‘bout his mother’s hair’s regrow

Attended to by his sister, iron hot and carin’

Both said No one ever called him Billie

 

His Mom and Sis off to the daIs to accept

What no one thought to give Willie while he lived and breathed and fought

The recognition he deserved ‘for he leapt

Into the jaws of death to save our land three gens ago when he’d been bought

 

This morn our Willie Branch was inducted into the U S Army at a tender age

And now we owe it to him to produce his play at Hartford Stage

 

I thank you for this opportunity to speak

And hope you’ll act to expedite to strive to seek

As Brutus says There is a tide in the affairs of men

On such a full sea are we now afloat

Produce this play flowed from this brilliant pen

Do not lose this chance to lift this bale, this bar to tote

 

Without, we got plenty of nothin’

Thank you, kind gentlemen.

 

— Lonnie Carter

Falls Village

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