Saturday, October 11, 2014

MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day: "truth" by Gwendolyn Brooks


The MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day for October 11, 2014 is "truth" (1987) by Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 - 2000) (pictured).  A link to the poem may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/242240.

Kansas native Gwendolyn Brooks was the first black author to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first black woman to hold the position of Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, a title now known as Poet Laureate of the United States.  She was also the Poet Laureate of Illinois.  Much of her work reflected the civil rights activism of the 1960s.  Reference to this and additional biographical information may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/gwendolyn-brooks.

In "truth," Brooks asked an interesting question:  just what would negroes do if true equality were suddenly thrust upon them?  Would they welcome freedom as one might welcome the sun after enduring many long, dark days?  Or would they remain in a slave mentality, cowering in the darkness, afraid to embrace the joys--and responsibilities--of freedom?

The poem was published in 1987, well after the victories of the civil rights movement.  The sun, as it were, had already dispersed the darkness of racism.  But many black Americans found themselves stuck in the past, perceiving discrimination that no longer existed and using that false perception as an excuse for their own personal failures.  Sadly, the "truth" is the same today.

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