“Inspired by the Past, A Tribute to Our Future”

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I was so grateful and so humbled when I received an invitation to the event titled, “Inspired by the Past, A Tribute to Our Future.”  The affair was held at the Westside All Wars Memorial Building, formerly known as the Soldier’s Home.  When I was a child, the Soldier’s Home was an aging building where I went for summer day camp.  Even though the building was recently renovated, so much felt familiar to me when I walked in.  I could still hear children running and screaming across the floor and see counselors in their green t-shirts rounding us up and making us sit against the wall.  As my husband and I walked through the building, I squeezed his hand saying things like, “The bathrooms are still back there” and “This is where I got my concussion.”  Every section of the new building held old memories.

 

 City of Atlantic City’s Black History Program 2/23/12

 I was so happy to see people I had not seen in years.  Childhood friends, family, and former teachers were there.  At moments I could not speak, so overwhelmed by their support.  Oh, and the program was wonderful!  Dancers, actors, and singers entertained the audience.  The performances were filled with passion, and I felt so blessed to be a contributor.  I read the poem below that I wrote a few years after my father’s death.

 The Seed is Watered

Pop, I have studied men

on the street of your generation

to recreate your smile

and admire that 70s bop,

although I knew it was

a feigned coolness

in a world that didn’t care

if you walked upright or not

because it was determined

to stop the new seed anyhow

or bend you like putty

one way or another

until your manhood, your family,

and your race could not be revived.

For this, I have cried

too often for your shortened life.

 

Pop, I have heard your voice

in the tone of anointed pastors

and thought, that’s how my dad

would have said that, if

he had said that, if

he had broken free…

if he had made the choice, if

he had continued to live,

if he could only see if.

Pop, I have unearthed you 1,000 times

and birthed you from Mary’s womb,

given you power, prosperity, peace,

and divine wisdom–I saw

possibilities in you.

I reconstructed you

on the faces of distinguished men

and finally in the eyes of

your grandson who reflects

your charm and intellignece

in the absence of

homemade adversity-

just everything you wished to be-

plus male poetry walking straight

in God’s destiny

breeding generations of saved men.

The world will not win.

 

 

The Seed is Watered  is my favorite poem to read aloud.  This is the first time anyone has ever seen it in print.  The audience was very quiet as I read.  Afterwards I sat down and watched the remainder of the show until it was my turn to speak again. I thanked them for honoring me, and I explained that one does not succeed alone. I pointed out my husband who was standing at the back of the room manning my book table.  I told them we had been happily married and devoted to each other for almost 25 years, and they applauded more loudly for that than they did for my poem. lol  Next I talked about my mother.  She stood up and waved.  Her expression reminded me of how proud she was when I graduated from high school.  I remember hearing her scream over all the other voices in the crowd and seeing her strong arm wave hard through the air.  Oh my goodness, I still tear up just thinking about it.   She was so proud watching me get my plaque that evening.  When I talked about what a wonderful mother she has been, I got choked up because I truly value the close relationship I have with her.

 

My Mother and I at the Black History Program 2/23/2012

Thank you so much Jaymi and Dawn for being so supportive!!!

 

 

Tanya, thank you for always being there!

Visit Tanya’s blog  http://lexawrites.com/

 

Thank you for your love and support, Atlantic City, New Jersey!!!!!!!

  Thank you for welcoming me home : )

5 Responses

  1. tanya says:

    You are welcome Shawn! As I sat, watched and listened to you read that evening, I was moved & inspired by your words. When you spoke of you and to your mother, my eyes teared because the moment was touching and very special. I enjoyed the evening & all of the wonderful performances. Thank you for inviting me! As my father-in-law would say from the pulpit, “press on!”

  2. shawnrjones says:

    Love you, Tanya!

  3. Ronald Cash says:

    Shawn,
    Thank you for sharing your profound story and other talents with your family and friends in Atlantic City. It is obvious that you have amazing gifts that God has given you. Please continue to let the spirit lead and guide you. You represent the best, purest and highest of what the world has to offer. Keep shining and don’t die with that fantastic talent left inside of you. Share it…give it away…then you can live even more abundantly!
    Peace and Blessings. Ron Cash

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