1619 – Poem

1619 Celebration of Black Women Tribute Poem

by Leah Goodwin 3/2/2019

 

Black women arrived in 1619

But what does that mean?

A journey we did not ask for.

A story of pain,

A story of hope,

A story that’s strong,

It is yours and it’s mine,

It is right and it’s wrong.

 

Women and men and little children

Born in Mother Africa

Sold into slavery

Our strength helped us survive in this new country

This land of the free

Has been and still is a dichotomy

We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors

We knew that the power was in our very blood

And we were not going to let this journey drive us into the mud.

The life of slavery

Was a human atrocity

1746 Lucy Terry, who was sold into slavery as an infant,

became a free woman and in 1756 picked up her paper and pen

and wrote the first poem we know about back then.

Followed soon after in 1773

Books of poems were published by the prolific Phillis Wheatley

 

Time moves on and Women stay strong,

They move to the melody of their very own song.

In the 1800’s, Harriet Beecher Stowe, gave us Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The voice of Sojourner Truth proclaimed “Ain’t I A Woman?”

Harriet Tubman followed that North Star,

And in 1863 President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing millions and changing the nation

We moved forward, to schools to better jobs to new situations,

It was the precursor to the great migration.

Charlotte Ray was admitted to the Washington, DC bar; in 1872

she graduated that year from Howard University yes –“H. U.”

 

A door had been opened, things weren’t like before

We invented things, we became teachers, and nurses and more

Mary McLeod Bethune earned her place in history

When she founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute to educate black girls and served as its president in 1943.

Madam C. J. Walker took care of our hair

becoming the first American women to become a self-made millionaire.

Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat,

Started a movement to desegregation,

That changed the nation.

Dorothy Height  led the National Council of Negro Women

all the way to the March on Washington.

 

It was time to show the world who we are

from athletes, to politics, to reaching the stars

Wilma Rudolph, our first Olympic gold medalist, in track and field – Yes, she won three

Katherine Johnson helped to send America’s first human spaceflight to the moon to earn her place in history.

Shirley Chisholm was the first to be elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, serving us with a heart of resilience

She also went on to make a run for President

Mae Carol Jemison traveled on the space shuttle Endeavor.

Carol Moseley Braun was elected to serve in the U. S. Senate, she was so brilliant and clever.

 

Forward was the only way to make up for lost time

There was no mountain too tall for us to climb

Jocelyn M. Elders was appointed as the U. S. Surgeon General.

Toni Morrison wins the Nobel Prize in Literature for Beloved, her novel.

Serena Williams won the U.S. Open Women’s Singles Tennis Championship which was just the beginning, she moves on and to this day she just keeps on winning.

400 years

Billions of tears

We stand here today

We see Oprah Winfrey, Simone Biles, Halle Barry, Michelle Obama, and now Kamala!

The living legacies of Mother Africa

The pride of our Grandmothers

 

We know how to keep our eyes on the prize

And as Dr. Maya Angelou stated

And still I/WE RISE

We have a DNA strand of creativity

It’s Black Lives Matter’s Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi

 

We have a purpose, a plan, we have super powers

Because we are the seeds that were planted

400 years ago

Together we will bloom into a million magnificent flowers.

February Blues (Poetry)

Open book in red heart shape on blue background

The After February Blues for y’all….

From Leah Goodwin 1995

How would you feel
If I told you it is real
the after February Blues
Well, I’ll tell you where I am
See Some bo-dee-y
Made Febru–ar–ry
a month for Black Histo-ry
and some-bo-dy
made Febru-a-ry
the month for love.

and somebody must realize
that February
being the shortest month of the year
and being the month for blacks and lovers
could be a hard month
for blacks and lovers ….here
are many similarities

Black Americans have a never-ending battle
against American hatred
prejudice and genocide
Lovers have to be brave
and find a way to make the love survive.
Black lovers?
OH
You follow my direction
Black lovers celebrate a short month …. where
Roses are red and Black is the thing to do.
Making a happy – but short recognition of self
Making a month of joy
in a year full of work.
Making a busy month of the year
Where we celebrate blackness
Where we celebrate love
Where we celebrate ourselves

and our black love
and then it is March
and we are not in the news
we are back to being denied and
no one wants to hear our views
and we find ourselves feeling a little abused
as we feel those — after February Blues.

Music is Food for My Soul

colorful-bowls

Music is food for my Soul

When my life feels out of control

Music is food for my soul

When I feel that need to connect

I plug in

To jazz

I mean – I expect

That Miles can take me away

My breathing changes

And the tears begin to roll

Cleansing my mind

Music is food for my soul

 

Now it is not always the melody

That takes me on a journey

No, the beat

Makes me tap my feet

And those low steady tones

Of the bass

Keep my groove in place

So when life takes its toll

Music is food for my soul.

And even when I’m happy

There is a place in the melody

Finding myself humming a song

Yes when life is good music still comes along

 

Music is food for my soul

Music is food for my soul

Live music is such a treat

The whole experience is so sweet

 

When my girl Cynthia

Sings My Funny Valentine

My heart opens up

And the memories are sublime.

 

Music is food for my soul

Music is food for my soul

Music is food for my soul

Let’s go eat some

Come

I mean I want a big purple bowl

Of music for my soul.

Remember

Remember
 
Hold on to your heart
Hold on to your hope
Hold on to each other
And remember,
Remember the promise, the gift and the glory of the movement
 
Hold on to your dreams
Hold on to your truth
Hold on to love
And remember
Remember your very own stories, your ancestors
the soul of who you are is full of this power
 
Hold on to the future
Hold on to the promise
Of true freedom in this land
And remember,
Remember the promise that together we can
Build a world where all colors can walk hand and hand
 
Hold on to the torn pieces of fabric
We can sew them back together
And remember,
Remember that we must be strong
We cannot give in, or let go, or forget
Together we will fulfill the dream of a free nation
With love as our sword, on the wings of the dove we soar
To that day when we ain’t gonna study war no more…
And remember
Dear sisters and brothers
“We are the ones we’ve been looking for”
 
Leah Goodwin • February 6, 2015
Written for spoken word presentation during ROAR with SOUL* worship service
*Resist Oppression And Racism with a Spirit of Openness, Understanding and Love

Laughing at Love (work in progress)

Laughing at Love (or six easy steps to allowing love into your life) is an inspirational, poetic journey into the lighter side of relationships. Each chapter begins with a poem and inspires the reader to take a chance on love, celebrate the love that is present, even if for a moment, and basically lighten up in the areas of commitment, “forever,” and the need to control. Love is a joy, each experience a gift, each opportunity a treasure, so go ahead and laugh about it — it is better than crying. I will post more about this book when it is published.

 

Laughing at Love
(excerpts)

Laughing at Love
even though at times I feel like crying

Laughing at Love
is much better than dying

Laughing at Love
is a way to keep on trying

Laughing at Love is the cure,
ain’t no denying.

  • Step one: Is there joy in it?
  • Step two: Stay in the game
  • Step three: It don’t mean a thing, even when you get the ring!
  • Step four: Love, lament, honor what you learn
  • Step five: Become the love you want
  • Step six: The choice is yours — choose love

© Leah Goodwin | 2008

Transition Poem – Andrea Cecilia Rendon

I wrote a poem in honor of Andrea Cecelia Rendon’s family at the time of her passing that became a part of the funeral service program and served as a higher level of support for family and friends.

Andrea Cecilia Rendon

Transition Poem (Eulogy)

The lunar eclipse called you

And you answered — take me home

Eighty-three years young

The next step of your journey has begun

You leave behind five children,

nine grandchildren

and five great grands

They will keep the story of your life

safe in their nineteen hands

They will celebrate and remember

those moments cherished and true

They have photos and gifts and memories

of the love they shared with you

Andrea Cecilia Rendon

This prayer we say for you

Is a prayer of love and gratitude

For the work that’s no longer yours to do

Dear Mother Father God,

Great and Holy Spirit, Jesus the special son

You sent us an angel one day

And on October 27, you called her back

home to stay

We are grateful for her presence

Her ability to stand up and try

Her many little habits

That we will hold onto as time goes by

So take Andrea and keep her

In the place where there is no pain

And shine the light of love into the family

To let only the joy remain.

For death is not the ending

It is the beginning of something

we are clear

Some day we will all be with her

When that time for us draws near 

© Leah Goodwin | October 27, 2004

Tom & May Fagan Wedding Poem

For Tom and May Fagan’s wedding, I wrote and performed a poem that was then given out as a unique and personal party favor for all who attended.

Love

We are surrounded by love

If we but open our eyes

Love is above us

in the clear blue skies.

We can hear love whisper

To the dreams inside our hearts

In the motion of each wave

We are never truly apart

Love is around us in so many ways

However we get a chance today

To celebrate the most sought after kind of love

This love, shared by Tom and May.

Did you know, more than five years ago

they met at a business meeting

And while the speaker was speaking

Tom was talking to May

Not interested in what the speaker had to say

He was taken with this woman who was sitting to his right

He thought, I would like to take her out dancing some night.

She really came to hear the speaker,

But Tom seemed nice,

and he had good advice

So as the meeting ended

Tom left with seven numbers he worked hard to get

They were attached to the phone of this lovely brunette.

He called right away and the dating began

From dancing to eating out

To movies and fun

They were happy together, one woman – one man

Things were easier hand in hand

After two years of dating, May sat Tom down

She asked him, are you just fooling around?

Tom was taking up all of her time

And May wanted him to get off the dime.

She said, “Do we want the same things?

Is there a future for us?

If not we can just part as friends,

No need to fuss.”

Well Tom, took a moment.

He sat up all night

For any other girl he would just say okay

But there was something, something in his heart about May

A little voice told him he needed to stay.

May talked to Mariel, who told her that it was all right

That they were a true family ready to unite.

Happy Together

Opposites attract

An artist – a numbers person

They learned how to laugh

Seems like a lifetime

since destiny placed them right next to each other

A chance meeting that became a special journey

They find the joy of

A heart to heart love

A true happiness together

Of course there have been some hard turns along the way

But Happy Together has brought them here this day

To stand in front of us, family and friends

And say yes to a love,

A happiness that never ends.

© Leah Goodwin | October 11, 2009

The Winds of Change

Here is the poem I wrote when my father died.

James C. Goodwin

The Winds of Change



The winds of change were blowing

Caught up in the balance of life and death

I claimed Fierce Grace

to send my Father home

The winds of change were blowing

Creating order out of Chaos

Providing divine intervention

The right people, words, songs and prayers

The winds of change were blowing

Moment by moment

Time moved fast

Time stood still

The winds of change were blowing

Scents of sage

Coffee, tears helped life staying

And supported life leaving

The winds of change sent the sun in

And in one swift last breath

They picked up my father

And blew him in to heaven

Swoosh

The winds of change rested

They felt like

Butterfly kisses on our cheeks

We cried

Because we knew

That Dad was in that wind

The winds of change rested

With a freedom song

And a million love beads

Providing energy

To send him upward

And the pure light within him

Carried him home

In the wind of change

© Leah Goodwin | April 14, 2013

My Father, My Legacy (work in progress)

In My Father, My Legacy I share a historical journey through the story and legacy of my family. It begins with my grandmother Ruby Berkeley Goodwin’s achievements in publicity, film and writing and chronicles my father’s accomplishments as a Tuskegee Airman and administrator for Cal Berkeley. My hope is that readers will discover how it felt to be a bi-racial child of a Polish Jewish mother and an African American father who met at Cal Berkeley on the debate team in the 1950s. There were challenges on both sides of the family; worry from the African Americans and expulsion from the Jewish family. Through my words, I show how my family’s life and love changed the hearts and minds of so many, then how their shared accomplishments affected the community. This journey culminates in Jim Goodwin (my father) accepting an invitation to attend the inauguration of United States President Barack Obama with his daughter (me) by his side.

 

My Father, My Legacy
(title poem)

My Father, My Legacy

A living part of history,

A young Tuskegee fighter pilot

Who graduated from Cal Berkeley,

Then worked in the community

Organizing with Dr. King.

My Father, My Legacy

A fighter for peace

A lover of nature

An eloquent speaker;

He could have been a

Beautiful actor like Sydney Poitier,

Instead he chose to change minds and open doors  

Working in minority affairs at Cal

My Father, My Legacy

He taught me so many things

The fine arts

The golden rule

The meaning of love

How music can make the soul sing

My Father, My Legacy

He means the world to me

He has seen so many changes in this great nation

And soon he will witness Obama’s inauguration

My Father, My Legacy

There is no place I would rather be

Than right by his side

Still his little girl

Hoping that maybe

A piece of his greatness
will spring alive in me

© Leah Goodwin | 2008

High Flying Pat

I began writing stories and songs in verse to entertain and educate children while I ran Happy House Childcare in Berkeley, California. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and it was from this organization I won Honorable Mention for High Flying Pat (read the story below on this page). Other children’s stories I’ve written include A Song for the Moon, Lazy Lily, Mary the Sleepy Dragon, Or Maybe a Horse, I Lost My Blanket and two stories about Kendra, a deaf African American girl who goes to school and to the doctor.

High Flying Pat

© 1991 by Leah Goodwin

There once was an airplane named Pat,

Who dreamed and wished as she sat.

I want to fly, fly way up high,

I hate being down,

down here on the ground.

Now whenever she got her chance to fly,

She marveled at how the time would go by.

I love flying up with the clouds in the air,

I’ll never go down to the ground,

way down there.

She glided, she flew,

Through the air, clear and blue,

This was the life that she loved,

it was true.

The people inside

Were so tired of flying,

They yelled and they cried,

That pilot kept trying

To bring Pat the plane down.

But Pat just kept flying around and around.

She said, “I love to fly, way up high

in the sky,

I’ll never go down to the ground,

No not I!”

“We must land!” said the steward.

“Stop this plane now!”

“I can’t,” said the pilot,

“I just don’t know how.”

They pushed all the buttons,

They pulled all the levers.

But Pat was just tickled,

She was smart and so clever.

“The flying is up to me!”

She shouted with glee.

“I love to fly, way up high

in the sky,

I’ll never go down to the ground,

No not I!”

Around and around Pat the plane flew,

Around went the people, the pilot,

and the crew.

Then the pilot looked down

and he suddenly knew

That Pat would soon land

in a minute or two.

Meanwhile young Pat, not sensing a thing,

Kept flying around and she started to sing.

“I love to fly,

way up high in the sky

and I’ll never go down to the ground,

No not I!”

Then right in the middle of her happy song,

Something was happening,

something was wrong.

Pat’s engine was stalling,

the pilot held fast.

At last Pat the airplane had run out of gas.

She couldn’t keep flying up high all around,

Her time was all over, she had to go down.

The pilot carefully steered,

The people all cheered.

When Pat touched the ground,

They were all safe and sound.

Well, Pat the airplane, I am happy to say

Still loves to go flying up high everyday.

But Pat learned the rules

And she keeps them in mind.

They’re easy to live by and easy to find.

Every plane that goes up in the air

Must come down

To help all the people get home

safe and sound.

The End