The Museum (At Last)

A Poem by Nikki Giovanni

December 8, 2017  By Nikki Giovanni

President Obama wasn’t there at
The Legacy Opening of the African American Museum,
Maybe he like I would have preferred
So that others would recognize
Maybe Brown
And always a combination
Though we don’t always know why


Walking finally into
The Hall
Traversing through the airport
Security to show no
Bombs no guns no
Thing but our tears
And fears over all these years to get here
The Little Old Ladies
So dear to all of us
So courageous
So precious
Had taken all
The wheelchairs
They were dressed
To the nines
Their Sunday hats
Their make-up


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Their high heels
Even if they couldn’t
They were smiling
Even as they remembered
Selma and Nina singing
Mississippi Goddamn
Even though they still felt
The pain of discovering
Emmett Till especially when their arms
Reached to embrace
Fannie Lou Hamer We Didn’t Come for No
Two Seats
Understanding what would await her
When she crossed
The Mississippi border


The Viola Liuzzo who came
Because she couldn’t not come looking
At the white men pulling up
To shoot her in the head
And they want to talk about
How they love white womanhood?
We have the photo but where
Is the wedding Ring wouldn’t?
That be a statement
Dr. Bunch was talking but could not
Be heard
He who talked to hundreds of thousands
Was not there to speak
Or eat how lovely
To have had Martin to
That table
The gentlemen in their Black
And White partaking of this table
Feasting on the beautiful food
And drink calling
Out to each other those
Who had survived
Smiling with each other
Those who had come
These 50 Years
Embracing each other not
On the loss of Martin
Or Rosa
Or Thurgood
But in the standing embrace
That all people are created Equal
And today we felt their singing
And dancing and drinking with us
Because today we are
For one
Brief moment


Excerpted from A GOOD CRYUsed with permission of William Morrow. Copyright © 2017 by Nikki Giovanni.

Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni
Poet Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 7, 1943. Although she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, she and her sister returned to Knoxville each summer to visit their grandparents. Nikki graduated with honors in history from her grandfather's alma mater, Fisk University. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor.

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