Lolita Stewart-White: “This poem is after James Brown’s famous song, ‘Please, Please, Please’ where the Godfather of Soul begs a woman to please come home. I was listening to it one night and thinking about President Obama. How I wish we could serenade and beckon him back to the White House.”
Lolita Stewart-White (Florida): “In 2007, I read a haunting newspaper article about the FBI reopening 100 unsolved Civil Rights cold cases. These cases, entitled ‘The Forgotten,’ involved black people who were murdered during the Civil Rights movement. Their stories moved me to write a series of poems. It is my small way of preserving the memory of Willie Edwards and others.”
“Civil Rights Cold Case #62 (Or the Yellow Dress)” by Lolita Stewart-WhitePosted by Rattle
CIVIL RIGHTS COLD CASE #62 (OR THE YELLOW DRESS)
Mattie Green, a domestic worker and mother of five
was killed in 1960 when a dynamite blast ripped
through her home. Her murder was never solved.
Your favorite yellow dress is what you wore the night
before you died. The one with the hand-stitched,
blood-red roses, passed on to you by Miss Cora Lee,
the well-to-do white lady who you did days work
for until she took sick and passed. Sunday evening
you slipped into its cool fabric, after a hard day
of shelling peas, cooking greens, and baking biscuits
for the five miniature versions of yourself. Daddy raved.
Said, “You put your foot in that meal, girl.”
You threw your head back and laughed out loud.
Spun around in the dress that complimented your dusty
red skin. None of us knowing then that it is what we
would bury you in.