The Afrolumens Project presents "Affirmative Action, 1940's Style," a poem by Marian Cannon Dornell.
Introduction by the author:
"For me, it helps to be able to forgive the meanness of the city that often refused to look beyond the fact that I was just a 'little colored girl.' I use writing and sometimes photography as the means to deal with my anger. One poem I've written has to do with an incident that happened to me as a third-grader at Boas Elementary. In the poem, "Affirmative Action, 1940s Style," there is no mention of the school or the teacher, but it shows how my parents raised and protected me as a child from the slights and hurts that were ever-present in the lives of Black people."
Affirmative Action, 1940s Style
Monday morning home sick from school .
We listened to Young Doctor Malone,
duck in and out of troubles.
Jingles jumped over and over again out of the radio.
Oxydol bleaching Rinso White-ning Super Suds
agitating in the growling round wringer washer with
Mama filled the tub with another load of clothes and more hot water she carried in a
On the back porch perched twin square zinc tubs filled to the brim~
Daddy always said the turquoise dress went the best with my vanilla lumpkin's skin.
On Monday that woman's hands were tough enough to dispatch a week's worth
Sheets and dresses clapped hems in praise.
But come Tuesday
But one of them had to play laundress because
Marian Cannon Dornell
Saturday, December 16, 2000
Boas School, Third Grade, Mrs. Williams' Class
In the class photograph at left, the Boas Elementary Third Grade lines up outside of the school. Marian Cannon Dornell is in the front row. The Afrolumens Project editor's father, George Nagle (Sr.) is in the back row.
Click the photo for a full-sized image. Image supplied by the Nagle family.
Editor's note: This poem was published in Ms. Dornell's book Unicorn in Captivity under the title "Come Tuesday."
All rights reserved to Marian Cannon Dornell.
Read about this poem by clicking here.
Read reactions to this poem by clicking here.
Listen to Marian Cannon Dornell read her poetry (You Tube) by clicking here
Video interview of Marian Cannon Dornell discussing her book Unicorn in Captivity Watch Here
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