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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Aprilois

 

by D. E. Steward

 

 

Acid damage like pooled sour milk on the granite against the steps on the down-Decatur Street side of Maya Lin's Civil Rights Memorial and the splattered reddish acid substance that keeps coming through from the face of the painted concrete flanking walls.  Since the attacks, an armed security guard is there by the water all night, all day, the state capitol just a block and a half away

 

Jim Crow heritage of sulfur yellow, a brilliant greenish yellow, yellower even than lemon

 

Cobalt yellow, aureolin

 

The rule of use governing a word

 

February 26, 1965, Jimmie Lee Jackson was beaten and shot by state troopers as he tried to protect his grandfather and mother from a trooper attack on civil rights marchers.  His death led to the Selma-Montgomery March and the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act.  Marion, AL

 

March 7, 1965, state troopers beat back marchers at Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, AL

 

March 25, 1965, civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery completed

 

The present violence implicit and perhaps not so racial

 

First you have guns, and when there is boredom and perhaps some angel dust or hooch, and necessarily irritation at something or some one for some reason, then you get violence, in Mississippi and Alabama as in most places

 

June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi, was leading a campaign for integration in Jackson when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home.  Jackson, MS

 

June 11, 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace stands in schoolhouse door to stop university integration

 

May 3, 1963, Birmingham police attack marching children with dogs and fire hoses

 

Sentient memory, cognizant recall

 

May 3, 1963, William Lewis Moore, a postman from Baltimore, was shot and killed as he walked through Alabama during a one-man march against segregation.  Moore had planned to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging the end to intolerance.  Attalla, AL

 

September 30, 1962, Paul Guihard, a reporter for a French news service, was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.  Oxford, MS 

 

April 9, 1962, Cpl Roman Ducksworth Jr, a military policeman stationed in Maryland, was on leave to visit his sick wife when he was ordered off a bus by a police officer and shot dead.  The police officer may have mistaken Ducksworth for a "freedom rider" who was testing bus desegregation laws.  Taylorsville, MS

 

Mud, cotton, dust and cabins.  Locale of Erskine Caldwell and Sherman's March.  Now the digital moving interstate patrolled for carrion by black vultures and turkey vultures and intersected by red-shouldered hawks

 

Across Georgia, winter Sunday morning with the sun at our back as though in the mood of the Adagio cantabile of Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy, op 46

 

July 11, 1964, Lt Col Lemuel Penn, a Washington, DC educator, was driving home from US Army Reserve training, shot and killed by Klansmen in a passing car.  Colbert, GA

 

June 21, 1964, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner, young civil rights workers, were arrested by a deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted their murders.  They were shot, and their bodies buried in an earthen dam.  Philadelphia, MS

 

May 2, 1964, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore were killed by Klansmen who believed the two were part of a nonexistent plot to arm blacks in the area.  Their bodies were found during a massive search for the missing civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.  Meadville, MS

 

Fulton County Stadium's white superstructure over the Atlanta freeway spine, the Deep South's yellow concrete interstates

 

Slow traffic on Peachtree Street

 

The modern road to Macon in the short winter afternoon

 

March 25, 1965, Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a Unitarian housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma March after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by Klansmen in a passing car.  Selma Highway, AL

 

August 20, 1965, Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County.  He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released.  Moments after his release he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.  Hayneville, AL

 

January 10, 1966, Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, a businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn't afford the fee required to vote.  The night after a radio station broadcast Dahmer's offer, his home was firebombed.  Dahmer died later from severe burns.  Hattiesburg, MS 

 

Yellow stone is a grayish greenish yellow that is slightly paler than the color hay, paler than absinthe yellow, and greener and duller than dusty yellow

 

Pecan trees, quietude, slow brown rivers, live oaks Spanish moss hung

 

May 7, 1955. Rev George Lee, one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote.  White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered.  Belzoni, MS

 

August 13, 1955, Lamar Smith was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched.  The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man.  Smith had organized blacks to vote in a recent election.  Brookhaven, MS

 

August 28, 1955, Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old boy on vacation from Chicago, reportedly flirted with a white woman in a store.  That night, two men took Till from his bed, beat him, shot him, and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River.  An all-white jury found the men innocent of murder.  Money, MS

 

Peanut, flax, cobalt yellow, that strong, brilliant yellow that's also called aureolin



Photograph of March on Washington courtesy of Wikipedia and Marines for Peace.