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  African American woman in circa 1850 clothing composes a letter at a desk.



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2003 Mail

Third Grade Incident Leads to Poem

From Marian Cannon Dornell, September 15, 2003
Dear Mr. Nagle,
Marian Dornell here. We've communicated a few times via the E-mail (I had a classmate with your same name in the 40s, remember?) I've become a huge fan of this meaningful site and as a result, have found friendship with Sheila Green Stevenson.

For me, it helps me 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.

With your permission, I'll submit it as an attachment when I get the word from you to do so. If it is not appropriate, I will understand. However, Sheila and I feel that the poem will help to educate people. It witnesses the evils of racism and shows how loving parents worked constantly to raise children to be whole people in the face of a heartless system that had the capacity to fragment and destroy innocent spirits.

Editor's note:  Afrolumens is pleased to present Marian Dornell's poem, "Affirmative Action, 1940's Style."  To view her poem, please click here.  For readers' reaction to the poem, please click here.

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