This article originally appeared in Volume I, Issue I of StoryBoard Memphis Quarterly in November 2021, page 22-23.
Penning, Printing and Pressing On There’s nothing civil about lynching Being run out of town Orphaned And being asked to give up your train seat to someone “they” deemed more deserving and better than You Someone much lighter, than you So “they” deemed her more ladylike, more human, than you So many know about Rosa on the bus, but how many know about Ida on the train Although considered last by the masses and the conductor Ms. Wells chose first class seating Justifiably so, she reign Penning lesson plans and unjust woes of Black folk Thrown off the train one could only imagine Ms. Wells fighting teeth and nail Printing in the flesh of foes for not just a seat but for dignity Dragged to no avail Pressing… with brawn and wit she prevailed A victory short lived overturned but a true legacy She lived As I walk Beale, I journal to educate I feel your presence As I pen poems to activate knowledge Your foot steps I follow Shoes way too big Tight too but in the spirit of freedom I walk inspired by you From Shaw, Rust College now to Education, Journalism and Activism I press Wells of courage of knowledge of fearlessness Pour into the Streets… of Memphis, from the roots of Mississippi to your sweet resting home Chicago and beyond Pouring from your pen to pages Printing and Pressing On Ida B back on Beale Standing Tall Taller than Ever Mighty Strong Justifying Our rights and exposing and defying their wrongs Teaching…Writing…Standing Penning, Printing and Pressing On just as she did as she shook dust from her dress after being thrown off the train she propels forward taking flight Erect And still She stands at the corner Of 4th and Beale For us all Newspaper/notepad/journal/speech in hand Raw ugly truth she tells and demands Agitating the lynchers of Black prospering lives shutting down little white lies In the midst of the Memphis Heritage Trail/historic loop Tall Just Paper in hand Hand on hip She stands The Educator The Journalist The Activist The Entrepreneur … STANDS Penning, Printing and Pressing On Homegrown Memphians tell what they know of you Ms. Ida B. Wells Solid grounded, yet still taking flight despite the perilous plight
Jeanine Jones is a small P.E.A. (Poet, Educator, Author) in a big pot, packing a lot of flavor. She loves the arts and uses poetry as her gel to make literacy stick. She has written five books and plays, including We Can All Decorate the Same Tree.
One Reply to “Penning, Printing and Pressing On: The Ida B. Wells Statue”
This is wonderful! I have always admired people who can write, and it takes a lot of work for me to do the same. Thank you for a great poem.